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The Doomsters Ross Macdonald
by Ross Macdonald Lew Archer Series


This is the third of the novels (review of last one in a few days) in the Library of America collection. The Doomsters: are they the Fates/Destiny/Nature vs. Nurture? Yes, this book qualifies for noir fiction but it is so much more. The book starts out with an escapee from a sanitarium asking for Archer's help. As usual, there are many twists and turns. One thing I failed to mention in my earlier reviews of the Archer novels is his ability to make his settings palpable (something I always loved about Steinbeck). Mental health, drug addiction, enablers, the power of suggestion, and characters who are far from black and white. Ross Macdonald's endings always leave me scratching my brain, which is a good thing. I highly recommend this or any of his other works. I also recommend this particular edition because it includes chronology additional writings and commentary.
 
 


Real Life
by Brandon Taylor


This book follows one weekend in the life of Wallace, a graduate student at a large midwestern university. He is struggling with many issues - the recent death of his father, being a minority student in his field of study, and not fitting in socially. Taylor writes in such a way that you can fully feel the weight of Wallace's stress and how it weaves itself through all of his experiences. This wasn't an easy read, but I found value in the messages, especially a poignant section about the overwhelming acceptance of casual racism. I would recommend it to someone looking for a more heavy literary novel.
 
 


Clap When You Land
by Elizabeth Acevedo


This is an excellent YA novel in verse by Acevedo, who also wrote the award-winning The Poet X. It's about two girls, one in NYC and one in the Dominican Republic, who find out they are half-sisters after their father dies in a plane crash. In alternating perspectives in verse, we get to know each girl personally and see them meet each other for the first time. The writing is beautifully descriptive. I would highly recommend this!
 
 


So You Want To Talk About Race
by Ijeoma Oluo


An excellent primer on discussing race, the principles of social justice, and understanding privilege. I listened to the audiobook and the matter-of-fact style and narration made it an engaging listen. Oluo draws from her personal experience, which adds credibility and interest to her writing. In talking to others about this book, I realize that certain points really resonated with me and I truly learned a lot. Would recommend, especially in the climate of our current society.
 
 


The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett


The Vanishing Half tells the story of Stella and Desiree, twin light-skinned Black girls who run away from home to New Orleans. Eventually, Desiree returns to Mallard with a daughter in tow and news that Desiree has "crossed over" - meaning she is living as a white woman in society. The novel follows these women over several generations, times, and locations and raises interesting points in regard to identity. I enjoyed seeing the characters grow and develop, especially Desiree's daughter Jude. This is an interesting read with a lot to discuss. I think it would be an excellent book club pick!
 
 


All Your Twisted Secrets
by Diana Urban


This novel tells the story of six high schoolers who come to the same restaurant under the guise of a scholarship dinner. Soon enough they end up alone and locked in a room with a syringe of poison and a ticking time bomb. The catch? They must choose one person to kill in the next hour or they will all be killed by the bomb. These students, all from different cliques (think The Breakfast Club) must decide what to do - before it's too late. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a suspenseful teen story. Perfect summer thriller!
 
 


I Don't Want To Die Poor
by Michael Arceneaux


I Don't Want to Die Poor is a collection of essays surrounding author Arceneaux's debt and how it affects his life. Rather than focusing on the debt, however, these essays center more on Arceneaux's upbringing and life as a gay Black man. It's full of pop-culture references and hilarious quips. It wasn't what I expected based on the title and blurb, but it's an enjoyable collection of personal essays if that's what you like. I read the ebook but I imagine the audiobook would be quite funny!
 
 


The Gravity Of Us
by Phil Stamper


This is a YA romance with a sci-fi twist! Teenage Cal's life is uprooted when his dad is chosen for a new NASA mission to Mars. Suddenly Cal, a Brooklynite with a budding social media news presence finds himself in the Texas suburbs managing his news reports, a reality show centered on astronauts, and the cute boy down the street. I would recommend this if you liked Love, Simon/Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens agenda, YA romances, or space exploration!
 
 


Tweet Cute
by Emma Lord


Tweet Cute is the perfect YA summer romance! Pepper and Jack, two seniors at the same NYC high school, unknowingly connect with each other on the anonymous chat app Weazel. To make things more complicated, Pepper's family's restaurant empire seems to have stolen a recipe from Jack's family's local deli. Now, amidst the normal chaos and intrigue of high school, they're also engaging in a meme-war to save their family names. Fans of You've Got Mail will love this hidden-identity story!
 
 


True Letters From A Fictional Life
by Kenneth Logan


James Liddel is the star of the soccer team and maybe-boyfriend of Theresa, a popular, cute girl. He seems content about life to everyone around him. But after getting drunk one night, he confesses his feelings to his friends, Hawken. It only goes downhill from there.
 
 
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