Jim Rath is obsessed with a lost aquatic race called the Nautikons. He enjoys visiting a local hotel pool where he floats submerged in the water, with only the top of the snorkel peaking out, daydreaming about the Nautikons. One day, Jim spots a man he is certain is a Nautikon in disguise, and he follows the man to several hotels in pursuit of evidence to prove his theory of the existence of this aquatic race.
Looker is a case study at its core, a novel that hones in on motherhood, infertility, and the concept of "having it all." Our female narrator is unnamed; her husband has left her and she has had zero luck conceiving a child. After her husband leaves, her life unwinds thread by thread and her obsession with the actress who lives next door grows into dangerous territory. Her job is threatened at work, and now her husband is calling, demanding she return the cat he left behind.
Tin Man is a beautiful portrait of a love triangle between Ellis, Michael, and Annie. But it's also a story of friendship and a story of family. The novel opens in 1950, with Ellis's mother remembering the day she acquired a painting by Vincent van Gogh.
Little Fires Everywhere received massive attention when it was published in 2017, garnering over 59,000 reviews on Goodreads and winning the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award. At the time, I remember watching the publicity for the book grow, and I even read an article that broke down its marketing success. Reese Witherspoon chose it as a book club pick and subsequently developed and starred in mini series Hulu adaptation.
Eve Ensler, known for The Vagina Monologues, writes about her struggles with cancer and her tentative relationship with her own body. Raised in an abusive home where she was sexually assaulted by her father, Ensler has spent much of her life separating herself from her own body. In fact, The Vagina Monologues came about largely because of Ensler's obsession with her own vagina and her desire to understand it, which led her to seek out and interview as many women as she could about their own experiences with their vaginas.
Wilder Girls takes the essence of most YA sci-fi/dystopian novels and tightens the net around them. What's left is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean called Raxter Island. It's a school for girls that was doing relatively well on its own. Until the Tox hit. It affected each girl differently. Hetty's eye began bleeding, and she had to sew it shut. Byatt's spine warped and is now visible on her back, and Reese's hand has become a hardened silver. The Tox affected the adults differently, and most of them died shortly after it began. The younger girls weren't that affected until they hit puberty and the Tox spiked in them.
Where the World Ends is set on the island of St. Kilda, off the coast of Scotland. A group of boys and three adult men are delivered to Warrior stac, which is less of an island and more of a rock (featured on the book cover) jutting out of the ocean. On the stac, the boys and men are meant to harvest the local birds for profit. This includes killing gannet, puffin, and garefowl for meat and for the oil in the birds' stomachs, which they will sell when they are picked up and returned to the main island. This is how the people of the St. Kilda archipelagos make a living. However, this time, no one comes to pick them up.
*** Note: this review contains spoilers, and the below discussion deals with psychologically abusive relationships and teen pregnancy. *** Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is a graphic novel about a young woman named Freddy and her relationship with Laura Dean, who keeps breaking up with her then acting as if they're back together again. The illustrations are beautiful, and I love the hint of pink on each page that serve as the only additional color aside from the black and white. Pink is a rather feminine color, yet I like to think the pink tint represents the borderline love that Freddy feels; it isn't full-tilt bright red love. It's dampened, faded, a little worn. It's a kind of love you've carried for a while, even as it fades.
I first fell in love with Holly Black when I was much younger and she was co-writing the Spiderwick Chronicles with Tony DiTerlizzi. The books were small, sleek hardbacks illustrated by DiTerlizzi, and I adored them. The books and the accompanying Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You was the seed of my obsession with all things faery and folk. One of the greatest things about Holly Black is that, for the most part, she stays in that category of fae writing, but we don't get the same world and characters recycled over and over again. The Darkest Part of the Forest, for example, is far different from the Spiderwick Chronicles, even though both deal with the fantastical realm of faeries.
Josie Pie was kind of a big deal in high school. The star of the school play, she is encouraged by her theater instructor to travel to New York to audition for a role on Broadway. Josie Pie is going places! But. Turns out, being a big deal in high school doesn't guarantee you a spot on Broadway. Scared of returning to school a failure, Josie stays in New York, racking up debt on a credit card and living in a hostel, then briefly on the street, before getting a job as a nanny for a rich woman.