GPL Blog

Book Review | Kneel by Candace Buford

From the publisher: The system is rigged. For guys like Russell Boudreaux, football is the only way out of their small town. As the team’s varsity tight end, Rus has a singular goal: to get a scholarship and play on the national stage. But when his best friend is unfairly arrested and kicked off the team, Rus faces an impossible choice: speak up or live in fear. “Please rise for the national anthem.” Desperate for change, Rus kneels during the national anthem. In one instant, he falls from local stardom and becomes a target for hatred. But he’s not alone. With the help of his best friend and an unlikely ally, Rus will fight for his dreams, and for justice.

Kneel is exactly what I expected from a book about a Black high school football player in Louisiana who kneels during the national anthem after his best friend is falsely accused of…

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Book Review | All’s Well by Mona Awad

From the publisher: From the critically acclaimed author of Bunny, a darkly funny novel about a theater professor suffering chronic pain, who in the process of staging a troubled production of Shakespeare’s most maligned play, suddenly and miraculously recovers.

Miranda Fitch is the literal example of “those who can’t do, teach.” Because she can’t act the way she used to–an accident involving a bone-crunching fall off the stage during a production of Macbeth left her with a bad back, hip, and leg, and now she can barely walk from her office to the stage at her job as a college theater director.

Mona Awad does here what she did with Bunny and brings the macabre and magical realism into the picture. Miranda is quickly losing all hope with everything: the doctors and…

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Book Review | Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin

From the publisher: It’s winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape. The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an “authentic” Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls, and cross into North Korea. As she’s pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen. An exquisitely-crafted debut, which won the Prix Robert Walser, Winter in Sokcho is a novel about shared identities and divided selves, vision and blindness, intimacy and alienation. Elisa Shua Dusapin’s voice is distinctive and unmistakable.

Did I pick this one up because I judged a book by its cover? Yes…

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Book Review | No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

From the publisher: As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms “the portal,” where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts. When existential threats–from climate change and economic precariousness to the rise of an unnamed dictator and an epidemic of loneliness–begin to loom, she posts her way deeper into the portal’s void.

Novels about being Extremely Online have proven to be topical catnip for a bevy of diverse…

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Book Review | The Upstairs House by Julia Fine

From the publisher: In this provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown.

The Upstairs House is Julia Fine’s second novel, although it’s the first of hers that I’ve read. But by golly, I’m going to go pick up her first one now because this was so hard to put down, it should have been titled anti-gravity (get it? Because I couldn’t put it down?). Fine’s depiction of early motherhood and postpartum psychosis is stomach-churning and it feels so real–I’ve never had kids, never really wanted kids, and yet I felt a connection to this…

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Book Review | Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove comes a charming, poignant novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

According to the description, Anxious People is about a would-be bank robber and eight anxious strangers. That is true, but as Backman says throughout the book, it’s also a story about a hostage situation, a bridge, human connection, mental health, idiots, and so much more. If, like me, you’re a fan of almost-too-cheesy ensemble cast movies like Love Actually, where everyone is somehow connected and gets a happy, neatly tied up ending, this book…

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Book Review | American Delirium by Betina González

From the Publisher: From award-winning novelist Argentine Betina González comes a dizzying, luminous English-language debut about an American town overrun by a mysterious hallucinogen and the collision of three unexpected characters through the mayhem.

If you’re the kind of reader who needs a plot with lots of action, steer clear. I mean, yeah, the deer have all gone wacko and are attacking people, and people are “dropping out” of society and living in the woods, but this isn’t action-packed by any means. But if you’re okay with stewing in the discomfort of your own inevitable aging or the nagging need to escape anything and/or everything? Yeah, pick this one up. Although, probably don’t pick…

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Book Review | Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler

From the Publisher: On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a young woman snoops through her boyfriend’s phone and makes a startling discovery: he’s an anonymous internet conspiracy theorist, and a popular one at that. Suddenly left with no reason to stay in New York, our unnamed narrator flees to Berlin, embarking on her own cycles of manipulation in the deceptive spaces of her daily life, from dating apps to expat meetups, open-plan offices to bureaucratic waiting rooms.

With the announcement of her debut novel, Lauren Oyler expected divisive reactions; she’s a literary and cultural critic, who has had her share of controversial takes over the years. Oyler has said she has a problem with the “moral obviousness of contemporary…

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Book Review | Vagablonde by Anna Dorn

From the Publisher: Vagablonde is a darkly humorous, rollercoaster ride through the Los Angeles music scene about a woman who wants two things: the first is to live without psychotropic medication, and the second is to experience success as an artist. A cautionary tale about viral fame, Vagablonde speaks directly to our time in biting detail.

Anna Dorn is a writer from Los Angeles. She is a former criminal defense attorney with a JD from UC Berkeley Law and has written for various legal and pop culture outlets. It’s not too far off then to think that her book about Prue Van Teesen, a lawyer-turned-rapper battling anxiety and depression, is probably a bit autobiographical. Prue has never felt totally happy with being a lawyer, but it keeps her parents content, pays the bills, and…

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