Category: Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Leaning into the “Crazy”: Reflections on The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Wang’s genius partly comes from her ability to write about her illness with seemingly perfect clarity, as the sufferer and the scientist. The book is a testament to her brain—a brain working so well that it can so effectively describe the torment it causes her. Especially since, as Wang reminds us, schizophrenia is a disease of “loosening of associations,” in which the mind is working so hard within the person—against the person—to rid itself of itself.

A review of The Man Who Can’t Die by Jon Frankel

The story is long, which works well for readers like me who hate to see a good book end; and the story is well-knit, which works well for scholars who want to tease out influences, tangents and themes. Frankel paints spot-on portraits of the male sex symbol, poor kids in privileged schools, Big Science, and environmentalists. Like Proust, he uses smell as a motif and a motivator.

A review of Made by Mary by Laura Catherine Brown

With depth in relationships that celebrate the chaos and imperfect love of mothers and daughters, lovers with lovers, and between friends, Brown delivers a beautiful and painful reminder that love often includes disappointment and failure, but also redemption and forgiveness. In the end, the human connection no matter how fallible, regardless of trappings of belief, is necessary for our survival.

A review of The Harper Effect by Taryn Bashford

The whole mix-up of the book, with elements of tennis, teenage and torture, it makes it relatable for people aged 13 to young adults, especially girls. The repeated message of following your dreams rings clear throughout, even when mixed up in love, relationships and secrets.

A review of The Silent Invasion by James Bradley

Callie’s character is very insightful and from her perspective in the book, she describes the world with similes and personifications, creating and painting beautiful or terrible images. It shows the world in all its beauty and horror through the words on a page, but seems so much more than that.

A review of Boats for Women by Sandra Yannone

Sandra Yannone’s brave poems contribute to popular history of the time, flooding us with the arc, the ache, of family and lesbian relationships in her first full-length collection. Some poems live in heartbreak, some, in ecstatic joy. They are worthy of many rereads.

Robert McDowell’s Narratives in Quiet Money and The Diviners

To understand the poetry of Robert McDowell, it is important to see him through the lens of the late, great poet Philip Levine, whom Robert McDowell recalls proclaiming, “Robert, he’s his own cat!” In a way that is prophetic and unique, Robert McDowell enters the circus of human stories, and tells them wryly, reminding us that humor exists even in some of our darkest and bleakest moments.

A review of Wonder By R. J. Palacio

The main character in Wonder is August Pullman: Auggie. He is a funny and sensitive ten-year-old boy from New York who was born with a facial deformity. The story follows his first year at school, after having been home schooled. Auggie wants to feel normal but this is hard when people stare at him and avoid him.