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  • C. P. Lesley

Books We Loved, June 2016

Lynn C. Miller, The Day after Death (University of New Mexico Press, 2016)

To survive, children tend to block out the worst of the bad things that happen to them. But in the new novel The Day after Death, by Lynn C. Miller, the protagonist makes the decision to take on the challenge of remembering. Since many of the people in her present have some connection to her past, the plot quickly becomes intricate and compelling. Exquisite writing and beautifully developed characters make this a thought-provoking literary novel for readers who want it all.—JS

Hazel Gaynor, The Girl from the Savoy (William Morrow, 2016)

In the years right after World War I, three stories intertwine. Dolly works as a maid at London’s posh Savoy Hotel while waiting for her break on the stage; Loretta faces the end of a spectacular career in the theater; and Dolly’s former boyfriend, Teddy, struggles to put himself back together after his time in the trenches. Richly lyrical prose and characters that deepen steadily throughout the novel, constantly revealing new facets and troubles, make this novel impossible to put down.—CPL

Eimear McBride, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing (Hogarth, 2015)

“Right now. Next now. What I’ll be?”

This is a difficult, furious, far-from-cheerful read, written for the most part without the usual organizing principles of the written word. This English author’s first novel falls within the modern Irish writing tradition and received several writing awards. It is the story of a young girl told in the personal idiom of inner thoughts with imagination, poetry, and power. It is the voice of rape, family chaos, bigotry, prayer, sexual degradation, shame, love, and death—the mix that keeps her “half-formed.” To read it as a writer is a moving revelation and a source of fascination. Yes, I did love it.—AA

Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies (Berkley, 2015)

What, you may wonder, could be more innocuous than a kindergarten orientation? But in this novel, nothing is as it seems. A five-year-old is accused of bullying, two groups of mothers declare war over the unfairness (or otherwise) of the charge, and from the beginning the author drops hints that someone will not survive the school’s Trivia Night. I read this for a book club, and although I would probably never have picked it off the shelf on my own, the story kept me hooked all the way through.—CPL

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