Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 12, 2015

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles


WI10: Adieu to Asheville

A spirited group of more than 500 independent booksellers, more than 100 authors and many publishers convened this week at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., for the 10th ABA Winter Institute, which ended last night. As always, there's nothing so special as many of the smartest, most dedicated booksellers in the country talking shop and talking books for three concentrated days.

Speaking at the closing reception, ABA CEO Oren Teicher said, "The energy and enthusiasm has been palpable from Sunday night until now." For him, he continued, "the fact that there were many new faces here, new stores and new people from stores was so energizing. It sends a powerful message about the vitality of our business." He noted that the ABA wanted "to do something special" for the Winter Institute's 10th anniversary, and thus chose to hold the event at the historic Grove Park Inn and in Asheville, which has a strong literary tradition. Attendees commented repeatedly on the setting, which was made all the more delightful by some sunny, unseasonably warm weather.

photo: Kevin Mann

Steve Bercu, president of the ABA and owner of BookPeople, Austin, Tex., said the Winter Institute's educational sessions were well attended and very well received. In addition, all the plenary speakers "were different but all were great." He also praised the interaction between booksellers and publishers, particularly at the rep pick events and the focus groups.

Highlights of the Winter Institute included a passionate address by Azar Nafisi yesterday morning (see our report below); speeches by John Green and Steve Johnson; a conversation about F. Scott Fitzgerald featuring Maureen Corrigan and Stewart O'Nan and moderated by Erik Larson; panels on a range of subjects; bookseller roundtables; bookseller-publisher focus groups; and publisher rep picks. The ABA held its first town hall at a Winter Institute, and both the general author reception and small and university press authors closing reception were packed.

As ever, there were rounds of publisher dinners at which booksellers got to spend more time with authors. Nearby downtown Asheville proved a lively place with great bars and restaurants. One of the best bookstores in the country, Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, hosted several Winter Institute-related events and welcomed booksellers who were on busmen's holidays.

The ABA honored longtime chief financial officer Eleanor Chang, who is retiring at the end of the month after 28 years with the association. Steve Bercu said Monday that Chang's "insightful management of your ABA finances and unwavering commitment to indie booksellers has played a critical role in fulfilling ABA's mission."

Once again, many in the ABA worried that the next Winter Institute would not be able to match the energy and excitement of the current one--even though the staff has always been able to put on sterling events, now for 10 years running. Many are already looking forward to Winter Institute 11, which will be held in late January next year a mile high in downtown Denver.

(Shelf Awareness coverage of Winter Institute 10 will continue over the next several weeks.)

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WI10: Nafisi on Books, Bookselling, Life

Azar Nafisi (photo: Kevin Mann)

In a rousing talk at yesterday's breakfast at the Winter Institute in Asheville, N.C.--a talk that ended with an instant standing ovation--Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Teheran and The Republic of Imagination, passionately discussed the importance of the book--and booksellers--for civilization, for democracy, for perpetuating human values and for creating empathy and connections between people of widely different times and places. She made fun of politicians and the news media (excluding "real news" man Jon Stewart), and quoted many writers and books, particularly The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ("the greatest book America ever produced"). She also praised the ideals of the United States, while saying that this is an "exciting but also dangerous time of transition and change."

Introduced by Betsy Burton of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, as "the hero of booksellers, librarians, teachers and readers everywhere," Nafisi began by holding up the glass of water at the dais and saying, "Because this is the kind of place where water turns to wine, I want to begin by drinking to independent booksellers. Even drinking coffee will have same effect."

Nafisi confessed to a little nervousness (not that that kept her quiet!) because "when you're among people you like and respect the most, you really feel nervous."

What has led to the current economic and political crisis, she said, is "what the great writers in this country call complacency, smugness." If the country doesn't take "risks and innovate and remember its ideals and values," the situation becomes very dangerous. "Just look at the history of the 20th century," she said. "No one would have thought that at the heart of civilization, in Germany, there would be fascism." Citing Sinclair Lewis's book It Can Happen Here, she said, "The point is it can happen anywhere."

Bookstores are a bastion against such dangers, she said. "Bookstores are the real manifestation of what a democratic space is because on bookshelves you don't differentiate what you put on by race, gender, religion, nationality or ethnicity. Everybody shares and participates in this democratic space side by side."

The act of reading is democratic and global, Nafisi said. "Once you become immersed in a book, you're not just a citizen of the United States, you're a citizen of the world." She used the example of an American reading Rumi and "a young kid who's never left the Islamic Republic of Iran who holds in her hand Herzog and lovingly calls the author Saul." This, she said, "is genuine globalism, not just going on Google and finding out where Estonia is. That's just information."

"Today bookstores and libraries are custodians of American history and American culture," she continued. She called for discussing issues and bringing people--particularly students--into stores, to "give them access to books and show them how it feels to hold books in their hands. This is a very important time for us, and if we do not do these things, we have shirked our responsibility."

Politicians won't solve the problem, she said. "I'm here today to say that we need to create space for an alternative viewpoint that is neither utilitarian nor ideological."

Nafisi decried people who take a utilitarian approach to education and want to rid schools of humanities. She laughed, saying these critics of the humanities make it sound as if the current economic and political crisis was caused "by a poet or artist or publisher or bookseller." She urged book people not be defensive about the value of books--arguing, for example, that the book business makes money--saying, "We are not here to offer aspirin for this economy or the crisis that we're in. We're not going to Botox our problems out of existence."

Connection and empathy are keys to civilization, she continued, and books are important here, too. "It takes a lot of work to feel pain," she said as she ridiculed the tendency of "our kids" who don't ever want to be hurt or feel pain and want to be insulated. People "need to reflect and question and question ourselves. There is danger and risk in every question." In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, whose every page "contains violence that comes out of complacency," Mark Twain "discovered that the flaw in this country, the worst kind of violence that will always be the measure of freedom in the country, is slavery."

Twain also highlighted another American problem. "American fiction is constantly reminding us that if we follow only the materialistic side of the American dream, we will be dead literally," she said. "The whole idea is not that wealth is bad"--it can be the means to the end of a more humane society--but it can be bad "when wealth is the end in and of itself."

The ideals of the American nation are unlike any other country's, Nafisi said. "The country is so new; its history is so new. It's as if George Washington was your grandfather." She praised the founders of the country, who were flawed humans--"heaven knows they were slaveholders and Jefferson slept with Sally Hemings"--but the beginning of the Declaration of Independence has been "a mandate" used by people as diverse as Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King, Jr., "to overturn every prejudice our founders were guilty of." The American dream, she continued, is "a shining place where the ideas of humanity would be central. That's why the founders made documents that went beyond their own times and prejudices."

Dignity is an essential human quality, too. "Human dignity is as important as life," she said. "Depriving people of their dignity is the worst crime you can commit." Thus, "we live in a democracy and individualism is important because the dignity of your neighbor is your dignity. We need an equitable society not because we're bloody socialists but because the world is more dignified when you are dignified."

Nafisi also lauded the traditional printed book, saying, "Form is content." Books serve as a kind of memory, which human beings need because "memory is the only conclusive sign that we have lived.... We need evidence that there was a life before us so we know there will be a life following. All the books on our shelves give us continuity and remind us that this is the only way to resist not just the tyranny of man but the tyranny of life, since we all die."

Nafisi said that for 30 years she has kept a copy of Nabokov's Ada given to her by her first love. "It's dog-eared," she said. "I've lost the cover, but every time I look at the book, I remember how my heart was full of love and how my heart broke." She added: "The reason your bookstores are thriving is not because people are making statements against Amazon, but because they want the book as an object."

Nafisi ended her talk as she began, making a toast. "In our different ways, we are custodians of memory and of all that remains," she said, lifting her glass. "Your job is one of most serious jobs in this country, and I'll drink my water to you." --John Mutter

Book Publicists Will Miss Jon Stewart

While Jon Stewart's announcement that he will be leaving The Daily Show sent shock waves throughout the U.S. this week, "book publicists were crushed," the Washington Post reported, adding that in an "increasingly fractured market, The Daily Show has been a singular platform for authors to promote their books."

"Getting an author booked on The Daily Show was often the Holy Grail for book publicists," said Kate Lloyd, Scribner's associate director of publicity. "His audience is made up of smart, book-buying readers who respond to the thoughtful treatment and authentic passion he customarily expresses for the books he features."

Elizabeth Riley, senior director of publicity at Norton, called Stewart "the intellectual author's Oprah," and Paul Bogaards, executive v-p of Knopf Doubleday, observed: "Publishers don't have a lot of substantive broadcast booking options for authors. The value of Jon Stewart welcoming writers on his show, giving them a platform and making them a part of the conversational mix was quantifiable in this sense: He elevated the work of authors, made books relevant to a younger demographic. And that demographic remains challenging for publishers to reach, at least en masse."

Kathleen Schmidt, publicity director at Weinstein Books, noted that "for certain kinds of books, The Daily Show has been an invaluable vehicle for promotion. Books about politics, public policy, biographies, that otherwise would be difficult to promote on a network morning show found their audience through Jon Stewart."

Kathleen Zrelak, director of publicity at Goldberg McDuffie Communications, said she will miss Stewart's awareness of smaller titles: "You don't need to be a household name to get on the show, just someone who has a book that advances an argument, a journalist who exposes corruption, a whistleblower, an academic with a fresh thesis."

Peter Miller, director of publicity at Liveright, was philosophic about the change: "We were probably lucky to have the show with Stewart at its helm as long as we did. When they started to book authors--the wonkier and untelegenic the better--it was an unexpected gift to publishers of serious nonfiction, like a bizarro C-SPAN. This is probably a sad, sad day for university presses."

Carla Cohen Literary Prize Winners Named

Atticus Lish's debut novel, Preparation for the Next Life, and Bryan Stevenson's first book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, were the fiction and nonfiction category winners respectively of the second annual Carla Furstenberg Cohen Literary Prize. The award was established last year by family and close friends of the beloved co-founder of Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C. Cohen, who died in 2010, was known for her keen interest in new authors, many of whom found their first audiences through her bookstore. The winners are awarded $5,000, which will be presented May 16 during a ceremony at P&P.

"Each jury's choice reflects Carla's legacy: powerful and clear writing on subjects that we have to deal with now as a society," said David Cohen, Carla's husband and chairman of the board of the Carla Furstenberg Cohen Literary Prize. "Such writing has a power of its own.”

This year's fiction judges were Barbara Meade, Cohen's business partner of 25 years; P&P buyer Mark LaFramboise; and novelist Howard Norman. Nonfiction judges were NPR producer Darcy Bacon; America's Promise president and CEO John Gomperts; and American Press Institute executive director and author Tom Rosenstiel. The jurors, who were chosen by a board made up of Cohen's friends and family, represent readers who have been part of the P&P community and reflect the values that Carla Cohen brought to the endeavor.

Obituary Note: Peter Partner

British historian Peter Partner, who will be "remembered as an important historian of medieval and Renaissance Rome," died January 17, the Guardian reported, noting that "throughout his career Partner alternated writing about Christianity and Rome with works on the Middle East." Partner was 90.


Stay & Read: 'The Best Library Hotels'

In honor of the recent National Libraries Day in the U.K., the Independent featured its picks for "the best Library hotels," including New York City's Library Hotel, where "each floor of this 60-room Manhattan hotel has been assigned a category of the Dewey Decimal System and kitted out accordingly. The eighth floor, for example, is 'Literature' with rooms entitled 'Fairy Tales,' 'Poetry', and even 'Erotic Literature.' All rooms come with a range of books, but bibliophiles can also hunker down in the communal Reading Room or the rooftop Poetry Garden, which offers spectacular views of New York--if they're not too engrossed in a novel, that is."

Foyles Waterloo Station Is a 'Proper Bookshop'

On the first anniversary of the opening of Foyles' Waterloo Station branch in London, bookseller Kat Hacheney's blog post considered "why this oasis of culture and calm has become a destination as much as it has a stop on the journey.... The press often seems determine to portray bookselling as a business in decline, but our first year here offers plenty of evidence to the contrary. Each morning Waterloo's flurry of intrepid passengers pours through our door and brings our shop to life. Even after a year people still walk up to us and say: 'It's good to have a proper bookshop here.' "

She also observed that "there's something very comforting in the thought that, amid Waterloo's daily hurly-burly, Foyles provides the answer to the challenges of a journey. And with the inevitable delays that come with commuting, it's always best to have a book on you."

Kolkata Is 'India's First City of Books'

Kolkata "is known for its love for all things literary," CNN reported, noting that "literary fever peaks here with the arrival of the year's most awaited event--the Boi Mela (Kolkata Book Fair)," which just ended last Sunday. The annual event draws approximately 1.5 million people.

Highlighting some of the city's best bookshops, CNN wrote that Kolkata "has countless havens for book lovers--some shops are part of big chains, some are tiny independent operations hidden in alleys, some fall somewhere between big and tiny."

IPG to Distribute Council Oak Books

Effective April 1, Council Oak Books, San Francisco, Calif., will be sold and distributed in the U.S. and Canada by IPG. The publisher had been distributed by PGW. Founded in 1985, Council Oak publishes fiction and nonfiction with a focus on health, spirituality and women's issues.

Book Trailer of the Day: I Don't Want to Be a Frog

I Don't Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt (Doubleday Books for Young Readers), a trailer with original music created by Petty's husband.

Media and Movies

Movies: Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey, the highly anticipated movie adaptation of E.L. James's mega-bestselling novel, debuts today in theaters nationwide, including 75 large-screen venues because "it's something I think we have to do" in order to "increase our bandwidth," according to IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster. In addition, plans are already underway for sequels based on Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

While booksellers may experience an uptick in sales of the novels, other retailers are also expected to benefit. (Have you seen the Fifty Shades of Grey Teddy Bear? And Buzzfeed gathered "13 of the least sexy Fifty Shades of Grey inspired items for sale.)

Earlier this week, the Telegraph featured a leaked memo circulated among the 20,887 employees at 359 B&Q home improvement stores, advising them "to read Fifty Shades of Grey and prepare for a massive rise in demand for rope, cable ties and tape."

In a plot twist worthy of Hollywood, however, ITV reported that B&Q admitted yesterday the memo, released by the company's "naughty PR team," was just "a bit of fun. Both B&Q, the public and the media have been entertained over the past few days and we are looking forward to a big weekend. We would have confessed to this sooner, but our hands were tied."

Media Heat: Reach Authors on Politics Nation

Tomorrow on MSNBC's Politics Nation: Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters, authors of Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding (Atria, $15, 9781476799834).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Savannah Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Tuesday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, February 14
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Live coverage of the 2015 Savannah Book Festival in Savannah, Ga.

9 p.m. Jonathan Horn, author of The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee's Civil War and His Decision That Changed American History (Scribner, $28, 9781476748566). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m.)

10 p.m. David Axelrod, author of Believer: My Forty Years in Politics (Penguin Press, $35, 9781594205873). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Sven Beckert, author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History (Knopf, $35, 9780375414145).

12 p.m. John O. Peters, author of From Marshall to Moussaoui: Federal Justice in the Eastern District of Virginia (The Dietz Press, $34.95, 9780875171432).

Sunday, February 15
1 p.m. N.D.B. Connolly, author of A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida (University of Chicago Press, $45, 9780226115146). (Re-airs Moday at 1 a.m.)

1:30 p.m. Daniel W. Webster, author of Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis (Johns Hopkins University Press, $9.95, 9781421411101). (Re-airs Monday at 1:30 a.m.)

6:15 p.m. Michael Pillsbury, author of The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower (Holt, $30, 9781627790109).

7:45 p.m. Elana Maryles Sztokman, author of The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom (Sourcebooks, $24.99, 9781492604594)

10 p.m. Reggie Love, author of Power Forward: My Presidential Education (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476763347), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.

11 p.m. Levi Tillemann, author of The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476773490).

Books & Authors

Awards: BIO; Audie FInalists; John Maynard Keynes; RoNA

Taylor Branch won the 2015 BIO Award, presented annually by members of the Biographers International Organization "to a colleague who has made a major contribution to the advancement of the art and craft of the genre." Branch is best known for America in the King Years, his trilogy about Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights movement and the U.S. during the 1950s and 1960s. He will be honored at the 2015 BIO conference June 6 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where he will deliver the keynote address.


Finalists have been announced in 30 categories for the 2015 Audie Awards, sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association. This year's winners, including a new category (Judges Award--Science & Technology), will be announced May 28 at the Audies Gala in New York City. Check out the complete Audie shortlist here.


Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen won the inaugural Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize. Sen will receive a sum of £7,500 (about $11,470) to commission a work of art and will also give the annual Charleston-EFG Keynes Lecture at the Charleston Festival May 23.


Finalists for the 2015 Romantic Novelists' Association Awards have been named. The six category winners will be announced March 16 in London. Each category winner moves on to contest the RNA's Romantic Novel of the Year. See the complete RoNA shortlist here. In addition to a special glass trophy, which is passed on from the previous year's recipient, the winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year will also receive a check for £5000 (about $7,645).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Unbecoming: A Novel by Rebecca Scherm (Viking, $27.95, 9780525427506). "Julie rents a room in a dilapidated house outside of Paris. She repairs antiques, mostly things no one else wants, and is a loner with no friends or social life. In her room at night, she reads the news from Garland, Tennessee, her hometown, where two men are about to be let out on parole for a crime for which she was the mastermind. Julie is terrified of being found and is just trying to survive. This is an exhilarating page-turner with multi-layered characters and several good twists. Once you hit the halfway point, it's a race to the finish to find out what's going to happen." --Amanda Skelton, Union Avenue Books, Knoxville, Tenn.

Mort(e): A Novel by Robert Repino (Soho Press, $26.95, 9781616954277). "Ants conquer the world and pets overthrow their masters in this smart, gripping novel. House cat Sebastian becomes Mort(e), a fearsome warrior for the animal cause. Battling across a dystopian landscape, flushing out the few human survivors, Mort(e) can never quite forget his domesticated past and lost friend, the dog Sheba. A crisis of conscience ensues. What is good? Who is evil? Are the dictatorial ants truly better than the humans with their germ warfare? Laced with humor, this action-packed thriller is thought-provoking." --Mariga Temple-West, Big Blue Marble Bookstore, Philadelphia, Pa.

Migratory Animals: A Novel by Mary Helen Specht (Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780062346032). "Specht's novel weaves together stories of science and art, friends faraway and family returned. Migratory Animals is a coming-of-age tale for grown-ups, a reminder that growing pains don't stop as we age and change and become who we're supposed to be--or who we hope to be. Flannery and her friends will grab hold of you and not let go until the last page has been turned." --Annie B. Jones, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, Ga.

For Ages 9 to 12
Legacy of the Claw: Animas: Book One by C.R. Grey (Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, 9781423180388). "In this first book of a new series, 12-year-old Bailey Walker is afraid he'll become the fourth person in Aldermere's history to die of the raving madness associated with an 'absence.' Populated by people who have special bonds with 'kin' animals, Aldermere is slipping into the hands of the Dominae, a political party whose members seek to use their bonding power to control all animals, and--eventually--people. Bailey wants desperately to fit in at his new school, but it's tough to be the only person on campus without a kinship. How far will the Dominae go in demonstrating their beliefs, and how can Bailey possibly fight back without kin to help him? Legacy of the Claw is the beginning of a grand adventure!" --Melissa Morrow, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing Tuesday, February 17:

After Birth: A Novel by Elisa Albert (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, 9780544273733) follows a struggling new mother.

The Whites: A Novel by Richard Price (Holt, $28, 9780805093995) follows a New York City detective with a troubling past.

Cook Your Butt Off!: Lose Up to a Pound a Day with Fat-Burning Foods and Gluten-Free Recipes by Rocco DiSpirito (Grand Central, $26, 9781455583522) gives recipes for weight loss.

Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool by Jennifer Jacquet (Pantheon, $24, 9780307907578) advocates forms of public shaming as a social tool.

Now in paperback:

Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers: A 44 Scotland Street Novel by Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor, $15, 9780804170000).

Derek Jeter's Ultimate Baseball Guide 2015 by Larry Dobrow and Damien Jones (Little Simon, $9.99, 9781481423182).


The DUFF, based on the novel by Kody Keplinger, opens February 20. Mae Whitman stars as a teenage girl branded the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. A movie tie-in (Little, Brown, $10, 9780316381802) is available.

Book Review

Review: Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story

Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story by Mac McClelland (Flatiron Books, $27.99 hardcover, 9781250052896, February 24, 2015)

In a heart-searing memoir, journalist Mac McClelland (For Us Surrender Is Out of the Question) recounts her struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the love that inspired her to overcome it.

While covering the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, McClelland witnessed a rape. Although her past was anything but uneventful--not only had she covered other major international stories but she and her ex-husband were among the hundreds of thousands displaced by Hurricane Katrina--her reaction to the stress of this particular incident was unusual. Instead of feeling terror or anger, McClelland had a sort of out-of-body experience, as though her consciousness had dispersed from her physical being. After that experience, McClelland also had to fight off constant and insistent sexual advances from a male coworker.

The one bright spot in her assignment was meeting Nico, a gorgeous French soldier dispatched as a peacekeeper in Haiti during the crisis. She expected a one-night stand, but their connection endured even when they returned to their respective countries. Unfortunately, a simple happily ever after didn't appear to be in the cards. Once back in the United States, McClelland found her symptoms--physical numbness, night terrors, uncontrollable crying--had followed her home. The diagnosis of PTSD shocked her; how could she suffer so much from a trauma if she wasn't even the victim? However, as she began to suffer hallucinations, crippling depression and suicidal thoughts, McClelland knew she had to take her condition seriously if she wanted her growing relationship with Nico to have a chance.

McClelland injects her memoir with plenty of eye-opening facts and statistics about PTSD, some widely known and some less so. For example, while PTSD is most commonly associated with war veterans, studies found that around a quarter of New Orleanians exhibited symptoms in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Direct trauma also isn't a prerequisite for the condition; people who live in close proximity to someone with PTSD can develop symptoms. As McClelland learned firsthand, societal views of PTSD still reflect a victim-blaming mentality, and the rejection and ridicule she faced from colleagues and the public after releasing an essay about her condition is painful to read. Readers should rest assured that her romance with Nico balances out the more dire aspects of her story: "I wanted to feel myself in the world so I could feel the best thing the world had to offer, and that was Nico's love." This no-holds-barred account of wading through the agony and debilitation of severe trauma to find deep love on the other side will leave readers shaken but hopeful. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: An American journalist recounts her struggle to heal from post-traumatic stress disorder while romancing a handsome French soldier.

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