Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 2, 2017

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley


BookExpo 2017: An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton

photo: Christine Onorati

"I have to tell you--as booksellers, I hope you know how much you mean to me," said Hillary Clinton Thursday evening at BookExpo in New York City, where she was in conversation with author Cheryl Strayed, discussing her upcoming books, her life as a reader and her plans for the future. "It has been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember. Libraries and bookstores are right at the top of my favorite things to do, so thank you."

The first of Clinton's two titles coming out from Simon & Schuster in September is a picture book version of It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us, illustrated by Caldecott Honor-winner Marla Frazee. Reflecting on the original release of the book in 1996, Clinton recalled that It Takes a Village became the subject of a number of speeches at the Republican National Convention, "attacking me for... I never know what they're attacking me for--long line of that." Strayed noted that young girls are often told that if a boy teases them, it means he really likes you, and joked that maybe that's what Republicans have been doing all along. To which Clinton drily responded: "If that's the case, enough is enough."

Clinton described writing her other upcoming book, a memoir that has yet to be given a title, as "an extraordinary, very personally meaningful but painful experience," an "emotional catharsis." She said that the book was not just about herself and the election but about "resilience," and about "getting back up when you're knocked down." She added that with the book she is trying to explain what it's like "to try to break through barriers knowing how hard it is, knowing you're going to make mistakes, knowing there all kinds of challenges every step of the way" and how she continued to find "hope and courage and resilience." Clinton explained that writing the memoir was so painful because she not only tried to reflect dispassionately on the shortcomings of her own campaign but also grapple with unprecedented events like Russian interference in the election. And contemplating her losses in 2008 and 2016, Clinton said that losing in 2008 was hard, but she "didn't worry about my country." Now, however, she said she is "fine as a person, but worried as an American."

photo: Christine Onorati

When asked about her reading habits as a child, Clinton answered that she read every Nancy Drew mystery growing up and found the character to be something of a role model. After her electoral loss last November, Clinton said she read plenty of mysteries, and described herself as a "very devoted mystery reader"; some of her favorites include Jacqueline Winspear, Donna Leon and Louise Penny. She remarked that mysteries were "very comforting because it was somebody else's problem." And when it came to reading during the campaign, Clinton said she had no time for reading anything other than "reams of briefing papers," because she and her staff had the "old-fashioned idea that the policies you proposed would actually be important in governing your country."

On the subject of America's fiercely divided political climate, Clinton said she was "deeply troubled" by the "deliberate effort" during the election to unleash, verbally and physically, a "level of vitriol and defensiveness and hatred" that can be incredibly dangerous. In this time of a "deliberate assault on truth and reason," Clinton emphasized that she still believed that American democracy is "the greatest man-made invention in the history of the world, and we can't give up on that and we can't get discouraged and we have to figure out ways to keep going."

For her final question of the evening, Strayed asked Clinton what her next chapter would be, to which Clinton answered that she had no idea, except that she would "do everything I can to support the resistance... we're going to have to continue to find ways to work together and make progress together, and to fend off whatever damage may be coming from Washington. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to be as active as I can." --Alex Mutter

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

BookExpo 2017: The ABA Annual Meeting

The American Booksellers Association offered much good news at its annual meeting yesterday. While recognizing the many challenges facing independent booksellers--including new minimum wage laws, rising commercial rents, the expansion of Amazon--CEO Oren Teicher noted that indie book sales in 2016 rose almost 5% and, as of last month, they are up "slightly" from last year's gains. Through last year, the indie channel had a compound annual sales growth of more than 6% over a five-year period. These numbers, he continued, are "heartening" at a time when so many general retailers have suffered and closed.

The number of ABA "regular member companies" has dropped to 1,757, down by 18 from 2016, the first drop in seven years, but the number of bookstore locations rose by 10, to 2,321, because of established stores opening branches, meaning that for the eighth year in a row the number of indie bookstores in the country increased. Provisional memberships--individuals who are working to open bookstores--rose to 141 from 108.

Other positive signs: established stores for sale have found buyers, and "especially heartening," a new generation of booksellers continues to enter the profession. Those younger booksellers have been at the forefront of efforts to make the bookselling world and the association more diverse and inclusive, which led to major steps by the ABA earlier this year (including the appointment of five new Booksellers Advisory Council members and the creation of a diversity task force). The ABA is also working to encourage the opening of more indie bookstores in underserved communities.

New ABA president Robert Sindelar and outgoing president Betsy Burton

The localism movement has helped indie bookselling, Teicher said, and is something that the association has strongly supported, working with other indie retailers on local, state and national levels, and something that it will continue to do.

The association remains committed, too, to providing "the education, professional development, and business services" that have helped and continue to help bookstores to succeed. In the past year, these efforts have included expanded education programming, with a focus on bookstore financials, part of which was an in-depth financial workshop presented twice in the fall and again at the Winter Institute. The ABA is improving its educational webinars and podcasts as well.

The association--together with ABFE--also remains devoted to supporting free speech and the First Amendment, all the more important "in the current political environment."

General business challenges include, through the end of 2016, retail rent increases on average of 4% annually over the last three years. But probably most important is Amazon, which continues aggressively to seek "industry and economic dominance."

Teicher commended again the ground-breaking study on Amazon by Stacy Mitchell and her colleagues at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance that shows how the e-behemoth intends to expand "its control into almost every aspect of our lives."

With a bit of awe--"I never thought we'd boast about Walmart earnings"--Teicher noted that Amazon has surpassed Walmart in market capitalization despite earning just $1 billion in profits over five years compared to Walmart's $80 billion. He noted predictions that within five years, 20% of the country's $3.6 trillion retail market will have shifted online, and "Amazon is on track to capture almost two-thirds of that share."

He recalled some victories in the fight against Amazon, particularly that, as of April 1, it is now collecting sales tax in the 45 states that have such a tax. He attributed that change in part to "your influence" and to the ABA's work with a broad coalition of retailers. And the fight continues, with a focus on getting elected officials moving toward "innovative 21st century solutions about antitrust enforcement, for example, and true consumer protection."

In a particularly important area, Teicher remembered that five years ago at the ABA's annual meeting, he called on publishers to rethink traditional book world business policies. Bolstered by regular conversations with publishers, that call has resulted in such things as rapid replenishment programs and simplified co-op. Publishers have helped the association launch Indies First and Indies Introduce, programs that "recognize the unique role the indie channel plays in discovery." The association is working, too, on testing a more efficient, centralized, online invoice-statement-payment system, like Batch in the U.K.

In her report, outgoing president Betsy Burton of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, recounted the association's recent proposals to publishers to create better backlist programs that would help booksellers give backlist "the attention we give to frontlist and sell way more"--both in indie stores and, as often happens, in a kind of ripple effect, in other markets. Key parts of the proposals include higher discounts and booksellers being able to choose which titles to include. She said all listened, and some have already introduced improved backlist programs--and the conversations continue.

Teicher said that this kind of work, as well as efforts with authors, was essential to "create a sustainable business model that supports a diverse network of locally owned bricks-and-mortar bookstores." He called on members to work with it to find solutions, saying, "We can't solve every problem, but by working together, as we have demonstrated so often in the past, we can insure that indie bookstores don't just survive, but they thrive."

Teicher concluded: "I've said it before, but after more than 25 years working on your behalf, I'm more confident than ever, as I stand here today, that the best years of independent bookselling lie in front of us." --John Mutter

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

BookExpo 2017: Adult Book & Author Breakfast

A rare Stephen King sighting at the Javits Center highlighted Thursday morning's Adult Book & Author Breakfast, which opened with a special "prologue" featuring the bestselling writer and his son Owen King, co-authors of the upcoming novel Sleeping Beauties (Scribner, September).

"It was a terrific experience to work with my son," King said. "And it turned out really well. We started as father and son. We became collaborators and finished as friends. So you can't do any better than that. And the book turned out to be a really good book. I can say that because I only wrote 50% of it."

Comedian and actress Whitney Cummings, author of I'm Fine... And Other Lies (Putnam, October), hosted the event, working the room to draw laughs from a sleepy breakfast audience: "Admittedly, this is a different vibe for me. As a comedian, I'm used to performing for drunk strangers at night. It's a little bit of a shift to perform for hungover strangers in the morning."

Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl (Norton, August), spoke about the power of storytelling and imagination in the lives of adults, who think they know what is real: "As kids we're encouraged to make up stories, to use our imaginations. When we grow up, we believe that we don't invent what happens. That we see the truth clearly. It isn't really so. Just like children, we put together the pieces we think we know and we construct a story that makes sense enough."

After a short film was played highlighting the extraordinary career of Captain Scott Kelly, whose upcoming book is Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery (Knopf, October), he noted: "It's great to be here. Actually after being in space for a year, it's great to be anywhere with gravity."

Kelly shared the tale of his non-reading youth, which was changed forever by the discovery of a book while he was in college. Reading Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff, he "recognized traits these guys had then that I felt like I had myself. And I decided right then and there that I was going to try to be like these guys from this book.... I was encouraged and I was motivated by something I read, and it was life-changing for me."

"So, I kind of miss this guy," Pete Souza, whose upcoming book is Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs (Little, Brown, November), observed before sharing a slide show of images reflecting his years as the official White House photographer. Citing the example of a now-famous shot of five-year-old Jacob Philadelphia touching the president's hair, Souza noted: "Probably the hardest part of my job is being ready when unexpected things happen."

Before discussing her new book, Sing, Unburied, Sing (Scribner, September), Jesmyn Ward offered a compelling tribute to the independent booksellers in her home state of Mississippi, saying that her experiences with Pass Christian Books in Pass Christian; Turnrow Book Co. in Greenwood; Lemuria Books in Jackson; and Square Books in Oxford "go well beyond that of merchants and producers.... They have all advocated for me in my work, have encouraged me through events and festivals, and been my cheerleaders and supporters as I try to write honestly about our very complicated state."

Ward added that Richard Howarth of Square Books and Pass Christian Books' Scott Naugle "have played significant roles in my life.... In a room full of booksellers, I thought it appropriate to acknowledge the important work that booksellers do... and in particular to acknowledge the impact that booksellers have had on me." --Robert Gray

BookExpo 2017: Pictures from an Exhibition

Returning to New York City, the BookExpo trade show floor opened yesterday, following a day of seminars and panels on Wednesday. Thursday began with the Book & Author Breakfast and closed with Hillary Clinton in conversation with author Cheryl Strayed; in between were a range of author events on the various stages, the American Booksellers Association's town and annual meetings, and plenty of signings and celebrations.

S&S kicked off Thursday with a breakfast for booksellers and librarians featuring eight authors and illustrators: (l.-r.) Marla Frazee (The Bossier Baby), Brendan Wenzel (Life ), Catherynne Valente (The Glass Town Game), Nikki Russell (The Misadventures of Max Crumbly), Lynn Weingarten (Bad Girls with Perfect Faces), Peter Brown (Creepy Pair of Underwear), Rachel Renee Russell and Erin Russell (Misadventures of Max Crumbly).
"Meet the Adult Editors Buzz Authors": (l.-r.) Ayobami Adebayo (Stay with Me), Chloe Benjamin (The Immortalists), Brendan Mathews (The World of Tomorrow), Daniel Mallory (aka A.J. Finn, The Woman in the Window), Liz Nugent (Unraveling Oliver), moderator Carol Fitzgerald, Gabriel Tallent (My Absolute Darling).
The American Booksellers Association board: (from l.), Robert Sindelar, Third Place Books, Seattle, Wash.; Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.; Chris Morrow, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Pete Mulvihill, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif.; Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., and Savoy Bookshop & Café, Westerly, R.I.; Bradley Graham, Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C.; Kris Kleindienst, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo.; Jonathon Welch, Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, N.Y.; Christine Onorati, WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J.; and Kenny Brechner, Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, Maine.
Discussing the Hot New Graphic Novels for Fall: (l-r.) Katie O'Neill (The Tea Dragon Society, Oni Press) Nidhi Chanani (Pashmina, First Second Books), Liniers (Goodnight Planet, Toon Books), Iasmin Omar Ata (Mi(s)handra, Gallery 13), Pratap Chatterjee (Verax, Holt), moderator Calvin Reid, Khalil Bendib (Verax)
John Hodgman did his best Serious Author Face as he signed his upcoming Vacationland (Viking)
Jamie Ford getting ready to sign a stack of Love and Other Consolation Prizes (Ballantine)
Harlequin CEO Craig Swinwood wrapped up Thursday with a champagne toast to celebrate the launching of three imprints: Park Row, Hanover Square and Graydon House. Pictured with Swinwood are (l.-r.) Summer Heacock (The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky), Neil Olson (The Black Painting), Kaira Rouda (Best Day Ever) and Eva Woods (Something Like Happy).


Love Blooms at Doylestown Bookshop

Congratulations to Krisy Paredes and Daniel Elisii of the Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa., who became engaged on Memorial Day! The couple met at the bookstore, where they've both worked for a number of years.

Road Trip: 'Not to Be Missed Indie Bookstores in Melbourne'

"Bookstores, in case you haven't been in one recently, are absolutely lovely, and always a zen place to visit," Cazinc noted in offering an answer to the question: "What Are the 7 Not to Be Missed Indie Bookstores in Melbourne?" (That's Australia, not Florida.)

Cazinc also tackled the question: "Why Indie Bookstores? Firstly, with all the online and digital stores, they need our support. Also, Indie bookstores have an incredible collection of books, and the owners and staff have knowledge and passion. The atmosphere is amazing in these shops."

Casemate Group Distributing Spink Books

Casemate Group has begun distributing Spink Books, the publishing arm of auction house Spink and Son Ltd., in North America through Casemate Academic and in the rest of the world through Oxbow Books.

Spink, which was founded in London in 1666, began publishing coin and metal catalogues in 1893, and today publishes resources and reference books for collectors, dealers and auctioneers. This marks the first time that Spink Books has had trade distribution; the publisher plans to release 10-12 titles annually, with four arriving before the end of 2017.

Media and Movies

Movies: Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry

A trailer has been released for Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, Laura Dunn's "vivid, poignant look at the life of seminal American writer Wendell Berry--and, by extension, the country he's lovingly written about for so long," Indiewire reported.

Produced by Robert Redford, Terrence Malick and Nick Offerman, the film is billed as "a beautiful and poignant portrait of the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of industrial agriculture, as seen through the eye of American novelist, poet, and activist, Wendell Berry."

Look & See was filmed in and around the rolling hills of Henry County, Ken., "a place that Berry has lived and farmed since the mid-1960s," Indiewire wrote. It first debuted in March 2016 at the SXSW Film Festival as The Seer, but has now been retitled and updated "to reflect the conversations that have come to the fore during one of America's most tumultuous time."

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Pinter; The Bookseller's YA Book

Poet and academic Michael Longley won the 2017 PEN Pinter Prize, which is awarded annually to a writer of outstanding literary merit from Britain, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an "unflinching, unswerving" gaze upon the world and shows a "fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies."

Longley will receive his award October 10 in a public ceremony at the British Library, where he will deliver an address. He will also announce his co-winner, the International Writer of Courage 2017, selected from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN. The recipient will be an international writer who is active in defense of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty.

Judge Don Paterson said Longley "is an ideal recipient of the Pinter Prize. For decades now his effortlessly lyric and fluent poetry has been wholly suffused with the qualities of humanity, humility and compassion, never shying away from the moral complexity that comes from seeing both sides of an argument. Longley is a war poet and a love poet, a nature poet and a poet of the arts, a poet of social and cultural history. Whether writing as a celebrant, critic, memoirist or elegist, he has precisely the 'unswerving gaze' Pinter called for, one often fixed on figures in the margins and shadows--whose lives are often left untroubled by literary description, but who, Longley insistently reminds us, have their own heroism, tragedy and nobility, and whose stories reveal the 'real truth of our lives."


Patrice Lawrence won the £2,000 (about $2,580) The Bookseller's YA Book Prize for her "accomplished" and "page-turning" debut novel Orangeboy. Author Melvin Burgess, one of the prize judges, said Orangeboy "ticked so many boxes for so many of the judges. It's a page-turning thriller. The characters and their relationships are truthful, delightful, surprising and strong. It was so refreshing to read something set in an urban black community that will appeal to a diverse U.K. readership. It deals with family, friendship, sex appeal, loyalty and generally being human. It is so accomplished and we all really feel there is something there for everyone."

Reading with... Javier Ramirez

photo: Heidi Jo Brady

If you know the name of a Chicago bookstore, it's highly likely that Book Table manager Javier Ramirez has worked there. One of the industry's most voracious readers, he consumes everything: children's books, serious nonfiction and all literature in between (with a soft spot for horror). Since 2011, he has co-hosted Publishing Cocktails, the semiannual gatherings of Chicago's literati, pairing libations with bookstore cash mobs, author appearances and book swaps--where he is always easy to spot in his signature band T-shirts, handing out hugs, laughter and book/film/music recommendations. Profiled by the Chicago Tribune, recipient of a James Patterson holiday bonus, one of Newcity's Lit 50 2015 and with more than a handful of well-known novels by notable authors featuring his name listed in the acknowledgments, Ramirez is the definition of a "literary citizen."

On your nightstand now:

Oh man. So much good stuff. Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash (American Psycho meets small Midwestern college wrestling), Velvet by Ed Brubaker (thrilling '70s super-secret spy graphic novel), Borne by Jeff VanderMeer (not smart enough to describe this sci-fi gem), Little Sister by Barbara Gowdy (I'd giddily read anything by her, and have), Eat Only When You're Hungry by Lindsay Hunter (local favorite--when I received this in the mail it took all my willpower to resist reading it at the counter under the watchful stare of a paying customer).

Your top five authors:

While in Minneapolis for Winter Institute, I had the opportunity to have a drink with the inimitable Nanci McCloskey, director of marketing and rights for Tin House, who got me talking about my favorite writers. Turns out we had a few in common, which led to spirited conversation and seeds sown for a lifelong friendship. In no particular order: Katherine Dunn, Barbara Gowdy, A.M. Homes, Kelly Link and Claire Fuller.

Book you've faked reading:

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. All my bookseller friends read and raved about it when it first came out. Through the many conversations that followed I was able to cobble together the gist of the plot and meaning, enough at least to chime in.

Finally read it a few years ago and cannot stop recommending it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Right now it's Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King. I've read my fair share of YA novels, but King manages to capture the human condition we refer to as "being a teenager" with so little effort I found myself utterly floored. Exploring the way that memory affects grief, and vice versa, was second in genius only to how King manifests said memory/grief in the mind of 16-year-old Sarah. King weaves family history, art and what our past, present and the future can tell us about ourselves into a perfect storm of a book.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Bats of the Republic by Zach Dodson (he's a book designer and publisher by trade, co-founding Featherproof Books), a singular and beautiful reading experience that cannot be replicated electronically. And on pure intrigue, Tampa by Alissa Nutting in trade paperback.

Book that changed your life:

The triumvirate of Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, Mister Sandman by Barbara Gowdy and End of Alice by A.M. Homes really shaped me as a reader in my early days as a bookseller. Having not been brought up in a household full of books, I was a bit of a late bloomer as a reader. I devoured these three one year in the mid '90s, which paved my way to the dark side. Haven't looked back since.

Favorite line from a book:

"For months they'd run their fingers around the hem of their affection without once acknowledging the fabric." --A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Five books you'll never part with:

Post Office by Charles Bukowski (signed British first edition with hand-drawn caricature of Bukowski by the author)

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (signed first edition of my favorite novel of all time)

Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads by Greil Marcus (When my beautiful son Diego Joseph was born 12 years ago, I made a promise to him that whenever the opportunity arose to have a book signed, whether it be an event I hosted or author dinner I attended, I would have that book inscribed to him. This was the first in what has become a varied and extensive collection he will one day appreciate).

New York Girls by Richard Kern (there's a photo of Lydia Lunch with the accompanying inscription to my then six-year-old son Diego: "Soon enough you'll be man enough"--his mother was not amused).

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. It is one of my favorite novels of recent memory, and easily his most accessible. I list it here mostly because the first two-thirds are pure genius, especially the last thrilling, hopeful sentences to what basically amounts to the end of the first act. Knowing what I know now, I would have stopped there and read the last third at some point. Maybe.

Book Review

Review: Bed-Stuy Is Burning

Bed-Stuy Is Burning by Brian Platzer (Atria, $26 hardcover, 336p., 9781501146954, July 11, 2017)

In Brian Platzer's first novel, one of Brooklyn's last gentrifying neighborhoods is having a bad day. Racially charged Bedford-Stuyvesant's history of shoot-first policing has the locals on edge. Their anger builds when a cop opens fire on an unarmed 12-year-old. The fuse is finally lit when police begin rounding up teens joy-jumping the turnstiles at the Utica Avenue A-train station and then cuffing those who swarm the area to protest. Shouting gives way to baseball bats, guns, looting--until all hell breaks loose.

The news of the riots travels fast on social media, and as Platzer's title announces, the word is out: Bed-Stuy is burning. This is especially bad news for Aaron, who, with his journalist girlfriend, Amelia, and their newborn son, Simon, are the only whites on a block of brownstones already pricing out long-time black owners. Aaron has a gambling problem and was kicked out of the rabbinate for stealing from his synagogue to cover his bookie debts. Now a successful investment banker, he is at the Belmont track when he learns that his family and home are under siege by the furious crowd. In a single violent day, Johns Hopkins MFA graduate and magazine journalist Platzer captures the tension of race, privilege and callous "broken window" law enforcement.

Aaron and Amelia are on center stage of Bed-Stuy Is Burning, but Platzer's novel also includes an ensemble of engaging support characters. Simon's nanny is a devout Jamaican immigrant in the process of converting to Islam. The block's unofficial maintenance super, Jupiter, is a wise migrant from Georgia with an angry teenage son caught up in the melee. He knows no good will come of the rioting: "This was going to define some of these kids' lives. Some would get killed. Others would kill. Reputations would be made. Men would spend the rest of their lives in jail because of this one day." A lesbian teen arrested in the taunting crowd sweep, Sara watches her brother beat down by the police and breaks free to join the rioters in front of Aaron's house. Even NYPD Commissioner Bratton makes an appearance to denounce the troublemakers, with a cameo press conference question from Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Platzer paints with a broad brush, but his characters are robust, right down to the food in their fridges or the cut of their frohawks. His story is about more than big social issues. It is about the masks people wear to hide insecurities--masks that are stripped off in the face of violent confrontation. An emotional Sara describes the class division in the neighborhood during a shouting match with Amelia: "You chose this place to live thinking there wouldn't be any consequences. S**t. You think people are just going to welcome you like they're thrilled you moved in? What's wrong with you people?" A bad day in Bed-Stuy is a vivid microcosm of the United States, but the hope Platzer suggests with his characters' healthy unmasking offers optimism for the whole country's days ahead. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Brian Platzer's first novel captures a violent day in the uneasy life of a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood where the fragility of love, parenthood, class and race is put to the test.

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