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FOR THE PERSON WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT UNTIL ONE OF US SHOVES GENTLY PLACES A BOOK IN THEIR HANDS

1. The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

“Every single one of these stories will leave you breathless, the air caught in your chest from the unexpected turn, the lurch that sends a story over the edge of greatness.

Blistering in their exploration of humanity, these stories explore the nuance of our modern world alongside the complexity of relationships between people and with ourselves. The protagonists are all women, every one of them a full human being who refuses to be different than who they are, even if doing so would please other people—especially if it would please other people. Even if they’re broken, Evans allows her characters to be unapologetically authentic.

This, alongside plots with verve and confidently nimble prose, is what makes Evans’s storytelling masterful.”

-Miranda

2. Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West

“Who killed Ruby’s mother? The road to the truth is filled with twists and turns and some devastating secrets.

Told from multiple points of view (including the omniscient Calvary Hope Christian Church) and crossing over timelines, this is a story about generational trauma, cycles of abuse, loyalty, forgiveness, faith, and the racial divide in Chicago. It takes place in a black neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago that has suffered injustice at the hands of the police, and examines the impact of systemic racism on law enforcement behavior.

This book is relevant, beautifully written and heartbreaking. A really excellent debut novel!”

-Caida

3. Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

“So I started this book expecting an interesting plot that makes me want to actually learn to use Excel sheets to their full potential. What I got was so much better.

Let’s start with the protagonist, Anna. Wonderfully relatable, she’s a young woman working temp jobs and trying to make ends meet in the city. The temp jobs just happen to be for villains, which lends itself to its own brand of danger — even as a paper-pusher. Then there are the superheroes — the folks who were gifted with powers and therefore take it upon themselves to “save” others, no matter the cost.

But what happens to the businesses and people who become collateral damage to the super “saviors”? Is stopping a villain from stealing worth the amount of damage heroes do to everyone and everything around it?

These are the sort of questions Walschots forces us to consider while we laugh and cry and have our minds turned upside down about what makes a hero and questioning how far is too far for the “greater good.”

-Christine

4. Blood Box by Zefyr Lisowski

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.

Blood Box is a mesmerizing book of poetry that deals in secrets, grief, intimacy, and inherited violence; its poems beg to be read in one sitting. Lisowski conjures up the stifling heat of a Massachusetts summer, when a juicy pear can be better than sacrament. Lizzie’s guilt or innocence in a court of law isn’t the focus of this verse: it deals with the IMPORTANT stuff, questions like

when can a house be a coffin?

what ingredients make an axe killer?

Exploring unmaking and becoming, being caged and the nature of innocence, this read is absolutely riveting.”

-Terry

5. The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

“This is a roller-coaster of a read. A thrilling tale of justice, love, and suspense, Jones proves that he is one to watch in the thriller-horror field.

Following multiple narrators bound together by choice, blood, and revenge, The Only Good Indians will prove to challenge your perception as the past slowly reveals itself and takes shape (at times literally), and make your heart race as you watch the world slowly crumble around the character’s perspectives.

A great novel with feet solidly in both Indigenous people’s lifestyle and culture, this novel truly proves itself with both relevancy, message, and imagery.”

-Nik

6. On the Freedom Side by Wesley C. Hogan

“In todays political climate, alongside tensions arising within the United States it is easy for individuals to succumb to feeling powerless against a system that needs change.

Wesley C. Hogan drives the idea that Democracy allows young people to be the change they want to see. He presents us with important figures in movements such as Black Lives Matter, and the individuals who protested at Standing Rock to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, and offers us perspective on the impact the youth had on their respective communities.

This book is a great read not only for learning about contemporary issues in which young people have taken action but also individuals like Ella Baker who was involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s.

If you are feeling hopeless in an issue that you or your community faces this book is the perspective you need. Finally, don’t be alarmed by the length of the book! It so articulately gives proper acknowledgements, notes, and citations of the information presented.”

-Lupe

You can check out more of our Staff Picks HERE.

HOLIDAY 2020 GIFT GUIDE: STAFF PICKS
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