Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2013, Pt. 2: Julianna Baggott, Amity Gaige, Cissy Houston, Maurice Sendak

Baggott, Julianna. Fuse. Grand Central. Feb. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9781455503087. $25.99. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. DYSTOPIAN
In Baggott’s laceratingly inventive Pure, those not safely under the Dome at the bomb-bright apocalyptic moment have been permanently fused to whatever was nearby, object or human, and Partridge defies his father, Dome master Willux, by escaping to the wider world. Here, Willux hopes to persuade those on the outside to deliver up his son by cleansing a kidnapped Wretch of her fusings—and threatening to kill hostages if Partridge doesn’t appear. He returns voluntarily, uncovering even darker secrets on the inside as friends Pressia and others work on the outside to understand how to cleanse themselves of their own fusings. Fox 2000 has bought the rights for the entire “Pure” trilogy, so be prepared. Even if you are wearying of dystopian fiction, throw yourself into Baggott’s work as the writing is exceptional.

Gaige, Amity. Schröder. Twelve: Hachette. Feb. 2013. 220p. ISBN 9781455512133. $21.99. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. LITERARY
Gaige was named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” Outstanding Emerging Novelists, has won numerous fellowships (e.g., McDowell Colony), and received high praise for her first two novels (LJ called The Folded World “a beautiful story…highly recommended”). All of which would seem to justify the booming in-house enthusiasm for her third work of fiction. Rather a fresh plot, too. At summer camp, first-generation East German immigrant Erik Schröder renames himself Erik Kennedy, an act that proves fateful decades later when he holes up with his daughter at Lake Champlain, VT, during a pitched custody battle with estranged wife Laura. She knows nothing of his past name or history. Erik finally offers his meditation on life, love, and parenthood from a correctional facility. With a six-city tour to New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Denver.

Houston, Cissy. Untitled Memoir. Harper: HarperCollins. Feb. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780062238399. $27.99; eISBN 9780062238412. lrg. prnt. MEMOIR
Houston published a memoir in 1998 called How Sweet the Sound, but she’ll sound bittersweet in this new memoir, which focuses on her daughter, Whitney. The book promises to be forthright in discussing the high points and low dives in the personal and professional lives of the renowned singer/songwriter while reminding us that when she died at age 48, “the world lost one of the most beautiful voices and an extraordinarily beautiful and charitable woman,” as her mother says. With a one-day laydown on January 29 and a 125,000-copy first printing; dozens of color photos will make this book especially appealing to fans.

Sendak, Maurice. My Brother’s Book. Michael di Capua Books: HarperCollins. Feb. 2013. 32p. ISBN 9780062234896. $18.95. POETRY/LITERARY FICTION/FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS
The classification may be complicated—this isn’t just “poetry, literary fiction, and family & relationships” but a book for all ages being published by the children’s division of HarperCollins—but it will surely be Sendak pure and simple. The last book the Caldecott Award winner completed before his death in May 2012, it blends poetry and artwork to honor Sendak’s late brother, Jack, also a children’s book author, whose Circus Girl and The Happy Rain were both illustrated by Maurice. Lots of promotion, including a 2013 wall calendar featuring Maurice Sendak classic titles, a “Classic Sendak Storytime Kit” with downloadable activities, a shareable fan widget, and special teacher and librarian blog feature at; the 200,000-copy first printing is no surprise.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.