Staff Picks

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.
I've read a lot of memoirs, but I have never read one with such an interesting and unique writing style. The memoir covers an abusive relationship during the author's time in her graduate writing program, and it is clear that Machado can write! Each chapter is written using a different literary device, genre, or trope which not only makes for a fascinating read but also contributes to the roller coaster feel of an abusive relationship. I look forward to reading more of her writing in the future!
-Emily, Outreach Librarian
Trust exercise by Susan Choi Trust exercise by Susan Choi
In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving "Brotherhood of the Arts," two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed--or untoyed with--by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.
Winner of the 2019 "National Book Award for Fiction", this novel is for fans of literary fiction who find themselves fascinated by unique writing styles. You can read the synopsis for this book, but it won't really tell you what this book is about because nothing is really as it seems. This wasn't the easiest read and there were points early on where I almost gave up, but by the end, it was one of my favorite reads of the past year.
- Emily, Outreach Librarian
Overview : a new way of seeing Earth by Benjamin Grant and Sandra Markle Overview : a new way of seeing Earth by Benjamin Grant and Sandra Markle
In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving "Brotherhood of the Arts," two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed--or untoyed with--by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.
This stunning, spectacularly beautiful collection of satellite images offers an unexpected and eye-opening look at our planet, revealing the beauty, wonder, resources, marvels and perils of our Earth. Overview shows the surprising, fascinating, and destructive ways humans have impacted our environment. This book allows you to see things in a way you have never seen them before, and is truly worth your time. Grades 4 – 6.
–Kim, Youth Services Librarian
Normal People by Sally Rooney Normal People by Sally Rooney
Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation--awkward but electrifying--something life changing begins. A year later, they're both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.
Two people who feel anything but normal don't realize just how normal they really are. I loved everything about this book, from the writing style, to the characters and setting, but most importantly the commentary on mental health and how it affects relationships.
–Emily, Outreach Librarian
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
This moving, hilarious, and surprisingly informative memoir, Kid Gloves, not only follows Lucy’s personal transition into motherhood but also illustrates the history and science of reproductive health from all angles, including curious facts and inspiring (and notorious) figures in medicine and midwifery. Whether you’ve got kids, want them, or want nothing to do with them, there’s something in this graphic memoir to open your mind and heart.
Lucy Knisley creates heartwarming graphic novels about real life things like traveling, cooking, and even wedding planning. So it was natural that her experience with pregnancy would make its way into a book as well. This book is at times equally funny, emotional, and terrifying. I love that she is willing to share not only her art but also her life with her audience.
– Emily, Outreach Librarian
Red clocks by Leni Zumas Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.
This novel is considered a dystopian and has been compared by many to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, but this one feels a little more close to home. The women in this story, who face very different life situations, are just like the real women that surround us.
–Emily, Outreach Librarian
Little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng Little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng
Enter Mia Warren--an enigmatic artist and single mother--who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
Not only is this an interesting story full of dynamic characters, but its local setting makes it a particularly fun read. I loved looking for the references of places I've actually been.
–Emily, Outreach Librarian
Educated Educated by Tara Westover
Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
This memoir is both fascinating and disturbing. Family is complicated and Tara Westover knows that better than most. With no education, no support, and even no known birth date, she was able to overcome extreme brainwashing and abuse to make a better life for herself. It's hard to not be inspired by the author's resilience and determination.
–Emily, Outreach Librarian
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob
Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob's half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything . At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she's gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.
This is a graphic novel, but if graphic novels are not your thing, it also comes in an awesome audiobook version! You might wonder how a graphic novel can translate to audio.. but this book is entirely in conversations! It was inspired by the author's own conversations with her family and friends and especially her six year old son about the world we live in. Mira's conversations dive into topics like politics, racism, and sexuality. I would highly recommend this book!
-Emily, Outreach Librarian
Magical realism for non-believers : a memoir of finding family by Anika Fajardo
A young woman from Minnesota searches out the Colombian father she's never known in this powerful exploration of what family really means He loved Colombia too much to leave it. The explanation from her Minnesotan mother was enough to satisfy a child's curiosity about her missing father. But at twenty-one, Anika Fajardo wanted more.
For someone who loves bright colors, it was hard to resist this cover! I am also a huge fan of the magical realism genre, so the title definitely intrigued me. Anika Fajardo's memoir is a beautiful true story of the complicated nature of family. I'm sure many readers, like myself, will be able to relate to parts of her story. The author is a truly gifted story teller, so while this may be non-fiction, it reads much like a magical piece of fiction.
-Emily, Adult Reference Librarian