Boys Don’t Cry

Fiona Scarlett

Reviewed by Alison Burns

The great strength of this novel is Scarlett’s understanding of both the bleakness and the love in the world of these young people. Finn’s chapters show a child seeking to protect his family while also trying to grasp what is happening to his body. Joe’s show the courage, loyalty and rage of a young man who experiences directly the collateral damage of gang activity [Read more...] in Reviews

Surrogate

Susan Spindler

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

Most of all this novel deals with the ways in which the characters negotiate their own stories about what is going on. Most of them behave badly at one stage or another and all of them believe themselves to be absolutely justified, given what the others are doing, or have done, to them [Read more...] in Reviews

How Beautiful We Were

Imbolo Mbue

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Mbue switches viewpoints between genders and generations, allowing the restrained eloquence of her characters – whether children or grandparents, male or female, single or in a group – to express the beliefs and ways of the Kosawans. For all their pain, theirs is a world of immense grace and natural order, grounded in meaning derived from a spiritual, social, familial and healing credo. This culture and morality stands in blazing contrast to the rapaciousness and self-interest of the oil company, and the government that protects it [Read more...] in Reviews

Nightshift

Kiare Ladner

Reviewed by Alison Burns

When Sabine moves to a nightshift job, putting together potted summaries of crime reports, Meggie contrives to join her. In their seedy new night-time world, she meets co-workers Earl, Lizard, Sherry and Prawn, with whom she soon shares booze- and drug-fuelled sessions after being up all night. Sometimes Sabine joins them. Meggie has a boyfriend, Graham, but can’t commit to moving in with him. Instead, she travels deeper into the night world, exploring her sexuality in an all-women bar and getting off with strangers [Read more...] in Reviews

We Run the Tides

Vendela Vida

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

The large homes with sweeping views of the Golden Gate bridge belonged not to tech entrepreneurs but wealthy and sometimes bohemian families, many of whose daughters attended the Spragg School. So it is for Eulabee, the older of two siblings to a gallery-owning father and Swedish émigré mother. Eulabee’s BFF is Maria Fabiola, a sugar heiress of outstanding comeliness. Two other girls make up their set of four, but everything goes awry for Eulabee on the morning that the foursome encounters a possible creepy male, on their way to school. Three of the girls report this incident as sexual harassment; Eulabee begs to differ [Read more...] in Reviews

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

Deepa Anappara

* A 2020 Notable Book

Reviewed by Rachel Hore

As a one-time journalist in Delhi, Deepa Anappara knows of what she writes, and her prose, richly punctuated by local idiom, is exceptionally vivid. She evokes the variety, individuality and vitality of the characters in Jai’s community with skill and humour, whilst underlining the appalling conditions in which they live. There’s little sanitation and they must join long queues for toilets or simply use the rubbish dump or the street [Read more...] in Reviews

Not at Home

Doris Langley Moore

* A 2020 Notable Book

Reviewed by Elizabeth Hilliard Selka

Doris Langley Moore found time to write six novels between 1932 and 1959, of which Not At Home was published in 1948 and is now reissued alongside her others by Dean Street Press with an introduction by Sir Roy Strong…The story introduces Elinor MacFarren, a botanical artist living alone in a large London house full of beautiful things who, to defray costs, takes a lodger. To summarize the plot briefly, this is a disaster [Read more...] in Reviews