If you have any interest in art history, tarot, the occult, or botany the book will have something for you. And if none of those things pique your interest, give it a read anyway; after all, who doesn’t like a good story about office politics and murder with an air of the occult hanging over it?
Parable of the Sower is an often bleak novel that ruminates on community, faith, love, and change. Butler doesn’t pull punches in her depiction of a world so full of danger and loss that it can often feel brutal. But at the same time, she weaves in moments of hope throughout the narrative that will keep you going through the novel. This book is a labor to read, and not an especially useful tool for escapists, but it is one of the most worthwhile stories you can pick up.
There are trigger warnings for this book for violence, cannibalism, rape, and animal cruelty.
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, translated from Spanish by Sarah Moses, is not an easy book to read. But amidst the horror that drowns these pages, there is hope that can be fished out from its depths.
As soon as I began Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin, I knew that I was going to treasure it. Schaitkin starts right off with prose so dreamy and ethereal, it almost felt like a haunting, like there was a ghost peering over my shoulder as I read the words. One of the key elements of this book is absence, the fading away and losing oneself to the expectations of the world around you, especially in relation to girlhood, to becoming a woman, a wife, a mother. This becomes eerily evident as soon as you reach page four, where the author writes, “Young boys could often be seen at the edge of the forest, huddled around piles of sticks and leaves and paper, holding stolen matches to the tinder until it caught and watching it burn. Young girls concealed themselves, crouching among the foxgloves in dooryard gardens, burying themselves under heavy quilts in their parents’ beds, playing at being gone.”
Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian is a historical fiction novel that pulls you deep into a world of darkness and drowned desires. Set in the Puritan world of Boston in 1662, Mary Deerfield has found herself married to a cruel and vicious man. On one horrific night, he commits an act of extreme violence against her, and she decides that she has had enough. After being married to Thomas Deerfield for five years, Mary begins the arduous journey of attempting to convince the Boston court that her situation merits a divorce. Mary is a character that I immediately admired, with the way that she stood up for herself and demanded an end to her mistreatment, no matter how taboo it was to do so during the time period. She quickly realized that she would do just about anything to get away from her husband. But at the same time, Mary grew up in a very strict church, and has been plagued by an intense fear for her soul since childhood. The threat of eternal damnation is always looming over her like an ominous New England storm cloud. And a woman that speaks up for herself is sure to be called a witch.
Everything Sad Is Untrue is the story of a middle school boy named Khosrou, who everyone calls Daniel, telling stories to his middle school classroom. They’re loosely interwoven, and rambling, and no one believes that they’re true but they are his stories; stories about him and his family, about his mother and about his ancestors. Daniel plays the part of a modern Scheherazade, weaving stories to save himself from the cruelty of his classmates.
This book serves as a reminder that without connection and compassion to others, life can be just a shell. This book hit me right in the heart and brought tears to my eyes for many reasons — the sadness and grief in knowing that it can be so easy to lose your way and turn your back to the things that make life worth living; the recognition that we have so many chances to turn it all around if that does in fact happen; and the joy in knowing that connection to another human being can be one of the most powerful things in the world.
“I enjoyed the way this novel went back and forth between past and present, and the way that the author connects the dots between the two time periods makes it exciting to read. It makes you want to go dig up a mystery of your own, to uncover something about the past that has been lost and buried.”
“A rebel, a rockstar, the phoenix from the flame, Sinéad has continuously stood up for her beliefs and not given in to what others wanted her to be, and I think that there is nothing more powerful than that: a woman demanding to be heard no matter how many pairs of hands are trying to pull her back into the shadows of submission.”
“Chapter 11 entitled Sugar Camp was especially meaningful to me. My mother was a WAVE at that time stationed in Dayton, Ohio and was recruited to work at Sugar Camp. From 1943-44 women were engaged in building a special faster bombe to decipher the previously used naval Enigma.”