Allen, Danielle. Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. Liveright: Norton. Sept. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781631493119. $24.95. MEMOIR
James Conant Bryant University Professor at Harvard, Allen offers a memoir that sums up the tragedy of African American youth today and the continuing inequity in our justice system. Her cousin, Michael Alexander Allen, arrested at 15 for an attempted carjacking, was tried as an adult, served 11 years of a 13-year sentence, and was shot and killed three years after his release. Yet he was a smart young man who dreamed of becoming a firefighter and a writer. What happened? With an eight-city tour to New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Raleigh-Durham.
Henderson, Eleanor. The Twelve-Mile Straight. Ecco. Sept. 2017. 560p. ISBN 9780062422088. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062422101. lrg. prnt. LITERARY/HISTORICAL FICTION
Henderson, who launched her career with Ten Thousand Saints, remarkably both a New York Times best seller and best book, returns with a story set in 1930 Georgia. Elma Jesup, a white sharecropper’s daughter, has given birth to two babies, one dark-skinned, which leads to the lynching of field hand Genus Jackson for presumed rape. (He’s dragged by truck down the local road called Twelve-Mile Straight.) Watched over by her testy father, Elma works hard to raise her children with the help of the young black housekeeper she regards almost as a sister, but the lies propping up this household eventually start to give way. With a 100,000-copy first printing and a ten-city tour.
Jones, Holly Goddard. The Salt Line. Putnam. Sept. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9780735214316. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780735214323. LITERARY/DYSTOPIAN FICTION
Winner of a Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award who has also published in Best American Mystery Stories, Jones (The Next Time You See Me) gives her literary work a dystopic twist with a futuristic story set in an America sequestered behind a salt line—scorched earth that protects citizens from a ferocious troop of disease-carrying ticks. Among those looking for high-risk kicks, housewife Marta, tech giant Wes, and a popstar and his girlfriend journey beyond the line, where they are held hostage by defensive outer-zone survivors in Ruby City. Whose side are they on, really? Sound comparisons to Station Eleven and California.
Newitz, Annalee. Autonomous. Tor. Sept. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780765392077. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780765392091. SF
Anti-patent scientist Jack travels the world in her submarine, bringing affordable medication to the poor, but her mission is running into trouble. One of her drugs has led to fatal overdosing, not to mention flooding, train crashes, and a dangerous addiction to work. Now she’s being pursued by an icy-tempered military agent and his partner, a robot who unaccountably falls in love. Involving reading even if it weren’t by Newitz, founder and one-time editor in chief of the sf website io9, who now serves as Tech Culture Editor at the technology site Ars Technica. With a five- to seven-city tour.
Ng, Celeste. Little Fires Everywhere. Penguin Pr. Sept. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780735224292. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780735224308. CD/Downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY FICTION
Clarifying her skills with portraying family tension, Ng follows up the uber-best-booked, New York Times best-selling Everything I Never Told You with a story set in classy Shaker Heights, OH. Rule-driven Elena Richardson has no trouble managing her diamond-perfect family until the arrival of single-mom artist Mia Warren and her teenage daughter, Pearl, who rent a house from the Richardsons. The four Richardson children are enthralled with the boundary-breaking pair, and when family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese American baby, the subsequent custody battle brings out tensions all ’round. Already buzzing; with a national tour.
Pearl, Nancy. George and Lizzie. Touchstone. Sept. 2017. 288p. ISBN 9781501162893. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781501162916. FAMILY/FICTION
Everyone’s favorite librarian—hey, LJ made her Librarian of the Year in 2011—Book Lust mistress Pearl now offers her first novel. The slightly skewed husband and wife of the title approach marriage differently owing to their very different upbringings. George comes from a warm, boisterous family, while only-child Lizzie seemed less a loved daughter than the pet project of two psychologist parents. Now, as Lizzie wrestles with a terrible secret from her past, she has lots to do to keep her marriage working. With an eight-city tour to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland (OR), San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
Sloan, Robin. Sourdough. Sean McDonald: Farrar. Sept. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9780374203108. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374716431. CD: Macmillan Audio. LITERARY/WOMEN’S
Having launched himself with Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist in first fiction with best-book and Alex Award claims to fame, Sloan here keeps his San Francisco setting but makes his main subject bread. Lois Clary, a software engineer at an ambitious robotics company called General Dexterity, is bequeathed a sourdough starter by her favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurateurs when they leave town fast owing to visa problems. Soon she’s baking up a storm and confounding the jury that decides who can sell in Bay Area markets by dreaming up her own market blending food and technology.
Zevin, Gabrielle. Young Jane Young. Algonquin. Sept. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780374716431. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616207724. LITERARY
Having charmed us with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, an LJ Best Book that lingered four months on the New York Times best sellers list, Zevin returns with an au courant work that blends politics, the slut-shaming that women still endure, and how the past is never really past, especially in a world dominated by the Internet. A hopeful congressional intern in Florida, Aviva Grossman gets involved with her much-admired and much-married boss, only to be regarded as toxic when the affair becomes public knowledge. To escape the media glare, she changes her name and tries to start over as a wedding planner in faraway Maine, but her past resurfaces with a vengeance when she’s talked into running for local office.