Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Tandem by Andy Mozina

In the opening pages of Andy Mozina’s Tandem, the satirical, darkly comedic glimpse at ethics and redemption, Mike Kovacs, a recently divorced economics professor, kills two bicyclists while driving drunk and then removes the broken pieces of his car lying near the crashed tandem bike, applies windshield wiper fluid from his trunk to eliminate the paint marks on the bike, and drives off into the night toward the safety of his home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. You want to hate him, but Mozina presents him as a complicated human being you need to understand. It’s rare that a novel makes you want to know more about someone otherwise portrayed as a villain.

Reading Mike’s inner thoughts feels slightly voyeuristic, yet the narrative compels you to learn if Mike will decide to turn himself in and his self-absorbed justifications, while abhorrent, demand your attention. “Nothing could be done. They were completely and irrevocably dead.” “He dimly grasped that his instinct for self-excuse was limitless. He gave himself a sort of credit for this dim grasping. As Dave [his friend] had explained the distinction years ago, psychopaths were not self-aware; he was, at worst, a sociopath. The only thing he knew for sure was that he didn’t want to go to prison and lose all his money.” 

Mike soon learns that the girl he killed is the daughter of neighbors, people he knows, and he’s drawn to the victim’s mother Claire. “If she were not married and if he had not killed her daughter, yes, he would be perfectly happy to ask her out. But she was married and he had killed her daughter. And yet . . .”

And yet, they do connect as Claire’s marriage suffers under the weight of the tragedy and Mike seems to be the only person who understands how Claire is suffering. Their magnetic attraction seems inevitable, while also being absolutely impossible and ridiculous. Only Mozina’s skill at enveloping the reader in this original dark comedy could make such a plot device work. But, work it does, pulling the reader in and refusing to let go. 

As Mike wrestles with his conscience, he visits a Catholic Church, confesses his crime, and seeks advice. In Mozina’s pitch-perfect, wry rendering, the priest tells him he isn’t a therapist and angers Mike by stating: “You want absolution, but you don’t want to be a member of the church.” Mike leaves the confessional enraged that the priest won’t advise him. He considers going to priests in different parishes, something of “A Pilgrimage for Penance.” “Maybe he would only visit churches named after Mary, where the outlook might be more merciful.” 

In this Edgar Allan Poe meets John Irving novel of just over 200 pages, Kalamazoo College literature and creative writing Professor Andy Mozina deftly exercises a form of Poe’s use of unreliable narrators via both Mike and Claire and thus closes the distance between their faults and the reader’s ability to connect with them. He also reminds this reader of John Irving in his demonstration of ironic situations that disrupt and ruin lives. 

Summing It Up: Read this short, sharp novel to find yourself unexpectedly empathizing with a drunk driver who kills a young couple and rationalizes his need to escape prosecution because it’s unlike anything else you’ll encounter.  Follow Mike Kovac’s thoughts as he attempts to determine how to make amends and lead a better life. Observe the effects of the accident on the families of the victims. Fall under the spell of the dark comedy that thoroughly captures you despite your misgivings. A must for book clubs!

Rating: 5 Stars 

Publication Date: October 24, 2023

Category: Fiction, Five Stars, Sushi with Green Tea Sorbet, Book Club

Author Website: https://andymozina.com/

Author Events and Readings: https://andymozina.com/events-and-readings/ 

What Others are Saying:

"[A] delicate web of intrigue. Fans of Kimberly Belle, Alex Kiester, and Greg Olear will appreciate Mozina's ability to blend the drama of a domestic thriller with the heartbreak of loss in many forms: death, divorce, and distance."—Booklist

“Reading Tandem is an education in crime, punishment, and the dark side of human compassion —and somehow it also manages to be hilarious. Mozina’s signature hapless characters, through no fault of their own foolish decisions, can only manage to make difficult circumstances worse as they move from guilt to absurdity.  A psychological tour de force!” Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Once Upon a River and The Waters and a finalist for The National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

“Tandem is gripping, propulsive literary fiction at its finest. When economics professor Mike Kovacs causes a deadly accident, leading to an unconscionable crime, we’re ushered into a morality tale of the highest order. Mozina shows expert control over a shocking range of moods and motivations. By turns sad, frightening, disturbing, haunting, and and—most surprisingly —funny, this novel wrecked me in all the best ways. Tandem is at times difficult to read, yet even more difficult to stop reading.”   —Darrin Doyle, author of The Bear in Aisle 34

“A glimmering masterpiece about the slippery nature of truth and redemption,  Tandem is at once riveting and contemplative, moving and hilarious, devastating and tender. It does what the best novels do: forever change how we see the world. —Erica Ferencik, bestselling author of Girl in Ice, and Into the Jungle The River at Night

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Harbor Springs Festival of the Book


This week feels like Christmas felt when I was a child. It’s the Harbor Springs Festival of the Book in Harbor Springs, Michigan and I not only have the privilege of attending, but I also will be introducing fourteen authors when they read from their books. Festival registration is sold out, but you can read along with us. Below is a list of the featured books that I’ve read with a brief synopsis of each to whet your appetites. There’s enough variety to offer something for every literary taste. There are also several other authors attending whose works I haven’t yet read. Find them and other information about the festival including events that are open to the public and possible ticket availability at  https://www.hsfotb.org/. If you are registered for the festival, I’ve listed the schedule of the Book & Bag readings after the book synopses. 


Fuentes, Javier, Countries of Origin is a page-turner that explores fear of falling in love, of being gay, and of not knowing where you belong because of immigration laws and class divides. Demitrio, who came to the U.S. as a child from Spain, is a highly regarded pastry chef who returns to the country he never knew because he fears deportation. He meets Jacobo, an extremely wealthy Spaniard, on the flight and their attraction leads to difficulties. The novel embeds the reader in Demitrio’s life and makes us care deeply about his decisions and the implications for society as a whole.

Harding, Paul, This Other Eden, Pulitzer Prize winner Harding’s novel is inspired by one of the first integrated places in the Northeast, an island off the Maine coast. The writing is luminous and lyrical, reading like a prose poem. In 1911, a Governor’s Council preaching eugenics examined and decided to remove the families that had been on the island since 1792. The mesmerizing, mixed Penobscot, African, and Irish characters, especially fair-skinned Ethan, a self-taught artist, are glorious. The descriptions of Ethan’s art are phenomenal and the way the book makes the reader ponder race and power makes it perfect for discussion. When Ethan first encountered ice, I felt like I saw it for the first time as well. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year, and it illuminates important issues. 

Heller, Peter, The Last Ranger, Ren Hopper, now in his thirties, is a competent, cerebral Yellowstone Park ranger. He became a ranger after his wife died and he needed nature, and specifically fishing, to cope with his grief. His love of fishing comes from his estranged, alcoholic mother. Ren is ambivalent about life, but he isn’t equivocal about the stupidity of Yellowstone’s visitors leaving him feeling that his ilk will be the last to care enough about saving bears, bison, wolves, and nature. When he rescues his best friend Hilly after she’s been left to die in a wolf trap, he’s sure he knows who trapped and left her and tries to stop him before Hilly or others die. Gorgeous, poetic prose and sentences that beg to be read aloud make this character-driven novel unique. Heller’s fans should also read his magnificent Dog Stars, The Painter, and the River.

Jackson, Jenny, Pineapple Street is a sharp, well-played comedy of manners with a subtle nod to finding meaning beyond one’s privileges. The Stockton family has quiet wealth. Tennis-playing, tablescape-making matriarch Tilda’s father and brother were New York Governors and her husband Chip also comes from generational wealth. They’ve just moved a few blocks into a smaller home in Brooklyn Heights allowing son Cord and his outsider, middle-class wife Sasha to move into, but not to alter their family home. Darley, the elder daughter, married to a brilliant, successful son of Korean immigrants, quit her finance job to rear her young children and signed off on her inheritance rather than ask her husband to sign a prenup. Much younger daughter Georgiana works for a nonprofit but spends most of her time playing tennis or partying until she falls in love and her life veers. The novel skews classism with cleverness and somehow makes you care about people you might not normally like. It’s deliciously observant while offering a hilarious escape. 

Marra, Anthony, Mercury Pictures Presents, Maria escapes Mussolini’s Italy for California while her father remains there having been sentenced to “confino” for his anti-fascist activism. She begins as a typist at Mercury Pictures,  works under the head of the studio, and soon becomes a producer. She falls in love with a Chinese-American actor who can't get work because of his ethnicity. The novel offers a detailed view of prewar Hollywood and the motion picture industry. The final chapters brilliantly tie the characters’ lives together and are exceptional. Clever dialogue and humor make misogyny and prejudice palatable reading.

Miller, Nathaniel Ian, The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven, Sven leaves Stockholm in 1916 to work in the mines in Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago, and begins keeping notes about his life. After losing an eye and becoming disfigured in an avalanche, he escapes farther from civilization to a desolate fjord with his faithful dog. Friendships with Finnish trapper Tapio and a well-read Scotsman help him survive and a surprise visitor arrives. This remarkable novel blends dry wit with lush, yet concise depictions of the harsh landscape and the belief that we all need someone to love. I adore every character in this wonder of a novel. 

Millet, Lydia, Dinosaurs, Gil has more money than he’ll ever need so after his longtime girlfriend leaves him, he abandons New York for a new life in Phoenix. He walks the entire way learning about the land and himself. His new neighbors live in a glass house offering him uninterrupted access to their daily lives. He becomes close to them and their son, Tom, who’s being bullied at school. Gil astutely observes the nature around him and is alarmed when he finds numerous bird corpses shot by an anonymous hunter behind his home. His continued friendships with his New York mates and new neighbors offer a meditation on caring for ourselves, others, and our world. This is a kind novel that celebrates connection and love. I continue to find myself thinking about Gil when I walk.

Offill, Jenny, Weather focuses attention on Lizzie, a college librarian, who seems to be all things to those within her realm. She counsels her mother, tries to keep her brother safe and sober, and answers emails for a podcast about climate change and weather, yet just dropping her son off at school overwhelms her. Lizzie’s marriage feels tenuous yet kind. Offill’s taut sentences, wit, and piercing paragraphs break through the commonplace to create a powerful novel. 

Thai, Thao, Banyan Moon follows three generations of women beginning with Minh who left Vietnam with her two children in 1973. She's lived for decades in a deteriorating Gothic house where she raised her family. When her granddaughter Ann, newly pregnant and living with her professor boyfriend on a Michigan lake, learns of Minh’s death, she heads south to her estranged mother Hu’o’ng. Told in three viewpoints weaving between present-day Florida and 1960s Vietnam, the novel explores the power of secrets, inherited trauma, love, and the things we carry. Minh’s descriptions of Vietnam during the war and after the “white allies left,” are brilliant and haunting. Thai cleverly reveals the secrets in this novel at just the right time. 

Warrell, Laura, Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm embeds the reader in the lives of Circus Palmer, a jazz trumpet player and ladies’ man, and the complex women surrounding him. Circus walks away from a woman he loves upon learning that she’s pregnant and thus continues his longtime habit of emotional avoidance. Evading his teenage daughter Koko when her mother abandons her is different, or is it? Two sentences near the novel’s end show how love grows and changes. Quoting them would be a spoiler, so to paraphrase: somewhere over time, one becomes someone who has love and another becomes someone in need of it. The novel beautifully reflects the music playing in Circus’s mind.

Zigman, Small World envisions the world of newly divorced Joyce who works at home in her Cambridge apartment. She welcomes her sister Lydia into her home when Lydia moves East after her divorce. Hoping to forge a new relationship and re-examine their childhood that dealt with the care of and the grief after the death of their disabled sister, the women are uneasy when loud neighbors move in above them and Joyce, in particular, finds herself adrift and annoyed. Dry humor and well-drawn characters make this family saga meaningful and poignant. 

Mysteries, Suspense, and Thrillers

Pavone, Chris, Two Nights in Lisbon, Ariel and John, her husband of less than a year, are in Lisbon on a business trip. On their first morning, Ariel awakens and John is gone. She soon receives a demand for 3 million euros. Within two days, Ariel and John’s lives are dissected by the police and the CIA. Is what happened to Ariel 14 years ago connected to John’s kidnapping? Is Ariel in danger because of a secret about a politician? This propulsive novel of love and power will keep you flipping the pages. Who can you believe?

Slocumb, Brendan, Symphony of Secrets Slocumb follows his blockbuster The Violin Conspiracy with a tale weaving classical music and prejudice against Black scholars in the field. Frederic Delaney is Bern Hendrick’s favorite composer. Bern has devoted most of his academic career in musicology to studying Delaney’s masterpieces. The last of Delaney’s operas has been lost for decades so when the Delaney Foundation, the organization that funded Hendrick’s schooling, offers Bern the chance to work on the newly discovered lost opera manuscript, he's ecstatic. He brings in his friend Eboni, a computer analyst who’s worked on other operas, and together they find evidence of a fascinating Black woman who lived with Delaney who might have written some of his work. A clever mystery with an underlying message.

Swanson, Peter, The Kind Worth Saving makes the reader wonder who the good guys are. Joan hires former teacher and police officer Henry Kimball to learn if her husband is cheating on her. Henry was Joan’s high school teacher and both were in the classroom when a student shot and killed Joan’s best friend then himself. Flashbacks to Joan and her husband Richard’s encounter as teens on vacation in Maine add an ominous note. The sinister twists in this character-driven mystery keep the reader guessing. 


Finkel, Michael, The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession tells the surprising tale of Stéphane Breitwieser who began stealing art from small European museums at age 25. By the time he was caught, he'd stolen more than 200 times and his collection, which he kept in his attic rooms above his mother’s home, was thought to be worth $2 billion. He never wanted to sell his treasures; he simply enjoyed gazing upon them with his girlfriend beside him. Finkel’s research makes the bizarre story compelling. 

Murphy, Finn, Rocky Mountain High: A Tale of Boom and Bust in the New Wild West, When 61-year-old Murphy moves to Colorado he has his previous entrepreneurial success and enough capital to enter the booming legal hemp industry. What could go wrong with an enterprise where no one has experience, the land and short season work against raising the product, the market is mercurial at best, and shipping rules make no sense? Everything—and it does! Murphy’s humorous rendition of almost losing it all along with his clever and tender tales of the people he meets, make this a winner.

Ruhl, Sarah, Smile: A Memoir shares playwright Ruhl’s story of losing her ability to smile and move much of her face when she contracted Bell’s palsy after giving birth. Her opening sentences make the reader want to learn more: “Ten years ago, my smile walked off my face, and wandered out in the world. This is the story of my asking it to come back, this is a story of how I learned to make my way when my body stopped obeying my heart.” That’s all you need to know. Read it; it will touch you deeply.

Middle Grade Fiction

Monsef, Kiyash, Once There Was, 15-year-old Marjan’s veterinarian father was murdered and she’s left alone and adrift when she’s called to heal a mythological creature and learns that she’s part of an ancient line with the ability to heal fantastical animals. Tweens and teens will love meeting a griffin, a unicorn, and other beasts, but there’s still a murder to solve and Marjan’s grief to address.  “But the people of the tribe understood some things can be true and not true at once, and that a story is a thread that can be woven into the world, until it is as solid as a carpet beneath one’s foot.” This book offers a magic carpet ride for those age ten and older.

Young Adult

Craig, Erin A., House of Roots and Ruin is a stand-alone sequel to the 2019 hit Secrets of Salt and Sorrow. This gothic thriller/fantasy is filled with ghosts, demons, and an imagined world that never interferes with the well-told story. Is Verity cursed? So many in her family have died that many consider them doomed. When Verity is commissioned to paint a portrait of Alexander, the disabled heir of a neighboring kingdom, she goes despite her older sister refusing her permission to leave. What secrets is Alexander’s father hiding? Teens will beg for a third installment. 

Stork, Francisco X., I Am Not Alone features 17-year-old Alberto, an undocumented house painter living with his sister and her baby. Alberto hears voices that frighten him while creating fine pottery calms him. He meets Grace, a probable valedictorian living a structured life while confused after her father leaves her mother. When Alberto is mugged and accused of murder, Grace must decide whether to leave her safe cocoon to help him. The story illuminates early schizophrenia and mental health challenges and focuses on courage and kindness. 

Book & Bag Readings 

  • Friday, September 22, 2023

  • 11:45 AM  1:30 PM

  • Holy Childhood Parish Hall 

  • Beginning at 11:45, authors are introduced at 15-minute intervals to read selections from their featured works. This is a come-and-go session, where attendees may simply sit and listen or enjoy their lunch.

Javier Fuentes 11:45 am                                                     

Thao Thai  12:00 pm                                                            

Nathaniel Ian Miller -  12:15 pm                                

Laura Warrell - 12:30 pm

Chris Pavone - 12:45 pm

Laura Zigman - 1:00pm

Finn Murphy - 1:15 pm

Introductions: Trina Hayes

  • Saturday, September 23, 2023

  • 11:45 AM  1:30 PM

  • Holy Childhood Parish Hall 

  • Beginning at 11:45, authors are introduced at 15-minute intervals to read selections from their featured works. This is a come-and-go session, where attendees may simply sit and listen or enjoy their lunch.

Erin A. Craig - 11:45 am                                                          

Brendan Slocumb- 12:00 pm                                         

Kiyash Monsef - 12:15 pm                                           

Gina Balibrera (Good Hart Artist Residency) - 12:30

Anthony Marra - 12:45 pm

Francisco X. Stork - 1:00 pm

Peter Swanson - 1:15 pm

Introductions: Trina Hayes

Thursday, July 27, 2023

The Forger of Marseille by Linda Joy Myers

What is it about historical fiction, especially stories about World War II in Europe, that so appeals to us? The Forger of Marseille by Linda Joy Myers offers clues to why we love such novels by telling the captivating tale of a nineteen-year-old Jewish artist who flees from Berlin to Paris in 1938 and then must flee again when the Nazis arrive in Paris. Along with thousands of other refugees, Sarah, now calling herself Simone, endures the harrowing journey through occupied France to Marseille where she becomes part of the resistance. Just when we think there's nothing new to learn about that period, Myers introduces us to the rarely told history of American journalist Varian Fry who arranged the escape of well-known historical figures like Marc Chagall and Andre Breton and to Church of Scotland minister Donald Caskie who helped close to 500 Allied service personnel flee France.

Sarah had fallen in love with César, a former doctor, whose time fighting the fascists in Spain had led him to work in the underground in Paris while fighting the demons of his previous life. Sarah had used her artistry to become a master forger in Paris where she created new papers for those in need. When she, César, and Mr. Lieb, the family friend and violin maker extraordinaire, who acts as a father figure to her, arrive in Marseilles, the Gestapo is on their trail, but they still feel compelled to risk their lives to help others gain safety. 

Using Sarah/Simone’s artistic abilities so ingeniously to create documents that fool the Nazis sets this novel apart from others that simply share the facts. The love story between César and Sarah also makes the novel sing and makes the reader care about them both. Author Myers is a therapist who has researched and worked with intergenerational trauma and it shows in her caring treatment of César and his experiences in Franco’s Spain and of the characters who fled the Nazis repeatedly.

Summing it Up: We can only eradicate injustice if we pay attention to how it was able to succeed in history. Novels like The Forger of Marseille show us the complicity of France in betraying its countrymen and enabling the Nazis to consolidate power. Read this novel to enter the compelling world of a young Jewish artist and her Spanish boyfriend who risk everything to help others escape and prove that each of us has something to offer to combat evil. Devour it to follow the arduous journeys many made through the Pyrenees to escape and to feel the gusting winds, the crevices, the rocky switchbacks, and the slippery stones of the steep trek toward the Spanish border. Myers doesn't simply report history, she makes it come alive. 

An article you must read to understand the inspiration for the novel: https://readherlikeanopenbook.com/2023/07/11/finding-cesar-linda-joy-myers-on-conducting-research-in-france-for-her-wwii-novel-the-forger-of-marseilles/

Rating: 4 Stars 

Publication Date: July 11, 2023

Category: Fiction, Grandma’s Pot Roast, Pigeon Pie, Super Nutrition, Book Club

Author Website: https://lindajoymyersauthor.com/ 

What Others are Saying: 

Publishers Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/9781647422318

“In this carefully researched and crafted novel, The Forger of Marseilles, Linda Joy Myers tells the story of resistance by those who risked their lives to save others—one of the few bright spots in the Holocaust. While accurately portraying what went on in France in 1940, Myers weaves elements of love, tension, art, music, and the gradual unfolding of her characters as they begin to trust one another. Myers draws the reader in with her descriptive prose and insight into what individuals endured during that horrific time.”

—Merle R. Saferstein, retired Director of Educational Outreach at the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center in South Florida

“This well-paced story of an artist turned forger in WWII era France weaves fictional characters with real-life people in a novel of gripping authenticity.” —Barbara Stark Nemon, award-winning author if Even in Darkness and Hard Cider

“Myers movingly conveys the traumas faced by her Jewish characters who flee Nazi Germany only to find themselves caught up in the turmoil of the 1940 Paris exodus and the early months of the occupation of France. Their involvement in Marseille’s growing resistance movement highlights the crucial work of Varian Fry and Donald Caskie, who aided the escape of countless individuals pursued by the authorities. In this gripping story of a tumultuous period of history, Myers offers us a vivid and compelling read.” 

—Hanna Diamond, author of Fleeing Hitler and professor of French History at Cardiff University

Monday, May 29, 2023

Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea

Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea introduces the little-known World War II Red Cross Clubmobile corps and the volunteer “Donut Dollies,” women who made and served coffee and donuts to GIs in England and Europe. While working to bolster morale among the troops, these women served alongside the soldiers under the most difficult and harrowing circumstances. Good Night, Irene, an exceptional novel, focuses primarily on two volunteers: Irene, a privileged but unhappy New Yorker, and Dorothy, an Indiana farm girl who's lost both the farm and her family. 

The novel begins when Irene leaves New York and an abusive fiancé for training in Washington, D. C. 

November 1943

Dear Mother, 

I have so much to tell you, but so much I can't say. I am sorry that I won't be home for the holidays and it might be a while before I see you again. As soon as I am free to explain, I believe you will be proud of me. I have joined the Red Cross and am going to do my part.

I had to make a change. I will explain more when I can.

Love, Irene

After stateside training, the volunteers arrive in England and Urrea captures their lives and intertwines their character development with descriptions of the countryside and the sad beauty of a Luftwaffe attack as the women’s train rolls into London’s Euston Station. “Flickering orange flames in the distance launched dense smoke columns into the sky. The glow of fires showed through the ruins of buildings. Churches that had already been reduced to shells by the Blitz were now transformed into enormous candles.” 

Irene and Dorothy begin to see the value of their role in the war as they watch men await their fellow pilots return from battle and they share in their anguish when someone is feared lost. Irene pens another letter home despite her mother not having written back.

“London, December 21, 1943

Dear Mother, 

If you were wondering what I'm doing here. . . 

He hit me.

Merry Christmas, Mother.

Good night, Irene”

Soon the women and their Clubmobile, a mobile unit with two large coffee urns, a record player, and a donut-making machine, cross the English Channel and serve alongside General Patton’s 3rd Army from the beaches of Normandy through France and Germany facing bombings, attacks, and eventually the horrors of Buchenwald. Dorothy, a tall, no-nonsense woman, and Irene, an artsy city girl, become close as they share living among soldiers, working beyond what seems physically possible, and suffering PTSD from all they've endured. Urrea imbues Irene, Dorothy, and many of the soldiers and others they meet with realistically endearing senses of humor that make the most difficult of their experiences bearable. He also uses engaging word pictures to portray the land they traverse so that the reader can see that these aren't just battle locales, they're actual places where people live and love. 

The story of these women is important to Urrea. His mother was a Clubmobile volunteer who had nightmares every night he can remember. Urrea and his wife Cindy, a former reporter who helped research the novel, found Urrea’s mother’s Clubmobile partner living only two hours from them and the woman shared remarkable insights and letters that helped Urrea tell the story with facts, compassion, and infinite care. 

Love abounds in this novel—love infused with the sadness of war alongside the joy found in the bonds of friendships made while serving together. Luis Alberto Urrea has given the world award-winning novels, poetry, and nonfiction, but Good Night, Irene may be his best with its poetic rendering of a forgotten piece of history and a powerful ending that fits perfectly.

Summing it Up: Good Night, Irene is a novel that reveals the truth about World War II in Europe and depicts it more vividly than nonfiction ever could. In Good Night, Irene, we feel what Irene and Dorothy felt, we laugh with them, we watch them grow stronger, and we ache when they suffer and are near the breaking point from living through such trauma. Good Night, Irene is the best book I’ve read this year and I’ve read more than fifty and several of them have been outstanding. If you loved Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky, you will find yourself equally immersed in Good Night, Irene. 

Footnote: Read this article for a beautiful picture of Urrea and for more in-depth information about his mother: https://www.pw.org/content/bringing_the_joy_a_profile_of_luis_alberto_urrea 

Chicago area readers: The book launch event will be tonight, May 30 at 7 p.m. at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL. If you haven’t heard Luis speak, you’re in for a treat. Ticket information hereHe’ll also be at bookstores across the country in the coming weeks. 

Rating: 5 Stars 

Publication Date: May 30, 2023

Category: Fiction, Five Stars, Grandma’s Pot Roast, Pigeon Pie, Super Nutrition, Book Club

Author Website: http://luisurrea.com/ 

Interview with the Author: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/91663-a-ballad-for-unsung-heroes-pw-talks-with-luis-alberto-urrea.html 

What Others are Saying:

BookPage: https://www.bookpage.com/reviews/good-night-irene-luis-alberto-urrea-book-review/ 

Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/luis-alberto-urrea/good-night-irene/ 

NPR: https://www.npr.org/2023/05/22/1177057433/luis-alberto-urrea-good-night-irene-review 

Publishers Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/9780316265850 

“Urrea’s touch is sure, his exuberance carries you through . . . He is a generous writer, not just in his approach to his craft but in the broader sense of what he feels necessary to capture about life itself.” —Financial Times

Good Night, Irene is a beautiful, heartfelt novel that celebrates the intense power and durability of female friendship while shining a light on one of the fascinating lost women’s stories of World War II. Inspired by his own family history—and his mother’s heroism as a Red Cross volunteer during the war—Luis Urrea has created an indelible portrait of women’s courage under extreme adversity. Powerful, uplifting, and deeply personal, Good night, Irene is a story of survival, camaraderie, and courage on the front line.”

—Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Four Winds

“Every once in a while the universe opens its heart and pulls out a book like this novel, gifting it to the cosmos. In Good Night, Irene, a new element has been created, and the literary world is reborn in the image of Luis Alberto Urrea. His voice comes alive on every page of this magnificent novel.”

—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of The Many Daughters of Afong Moy and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet