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  • C. P. Lesley

Books We Loved, Sep. 2016

Martha Conway, Sugarland (Noontime Books, 2016)

It’s 1921, and Prohibition is in full swing, but you wouldn’t know it from the nightclubs and speakeasies of Chicago, where bathtub gin mingles with homemade bourbon distilled from trainloads of corn sugar shipped up from Southern farms. A young man named Al Capone is on his way up, the bar owners squabble over control of the sugar trade, and the police know to turn a blind eye. So when a drive-by shooting leads to murder, two young women—Eve, a black jazz pianist, and Lena, a white nurse—band together to find Eve’s missing stepsister and the killer of Lena’s brother in this fast-paced, twisty, riveting journey through the seedy back alleys of the Windy City, where the Great Migration has only just begun to break down the barriers of racial segregation.—CPL

Camille DiMaio, The Memory of Us (Lake Union Publishing, 2016)

The Memory of Us is a beautiful and haunting love story set in pre-World War II England. When Julianne and Kyle find each other, they sacrifice everything to be together. But once the war hits, each finds out the true meaning of sacrifice, and the reader is taken on a breathtaking journey through tragedies and triumphs and learns that even when all looks lost, love still wins.—CJH

Colum McCann, TransAtlantic (Random House, 2014)

National Book Award winner Colum McCann tells a complex story of historic change and personal identity using Atlantic Ocean crossings from the 19th to the 21st centuries. He incorporates the Irish airmen who made the first transatlantic flight in 1919; Frederick Douglass, who toured Ireland in 1845; and Senator George Mitchell, who brokered the Good Friday Peace Accords in 2011. They intersect with fictional women descended from an Irish maid, and it is the women’s story. McCann makes it our story, too, with his brilliant writing and powerful details, infused with empathy for us and our predecessors who crossed that ocean to reinvent and start again.—AA

Roz Morris, Lifeform Three (Spark Furnace Books, 2016)

Deceptively simple and deliciously sly, this novel is just about pitch-perfect. To say it’s essentially a tale about a robot and a horse does not do it justice. Morris stays in the point of view of the bod, a created life form, throughout the novel, and she pulls it off without sentimentality, creating a believable, vivid, sympathetic portrayal. Although the bod of necessity knows little of the world beyond that which it serves, Morris includes telling details in an unobtrusive way to create a picture of a futuristic society in which people have lost all connection with nature and animals.—GM

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