Fiction Reviews | February 15, 2013

Library Journal Reviews starred review Silver, Marisa. Mary Coin. Blue Rider: Penguin Books (USA). Mar. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780399160707. $26.95;ebk. ISBN 9781101611074. F

Dorthea Lange’s legendary photograph of an unknown migrant mother, taken at the height of the Great Depression, is the inspiration for Silver’s (The God of War) superb new novel. The titular character is a reimagining of this Native American mother of seven, with the memorable face that came to symbolize American poverty. Mary, along with Vera Dare, a strong-minded photographer and polio survivor who is forced to abandon her own children, and Walker Dodge, a modern-day history professor with a surprising link to the celebrated photograph, are the mesmerizing novel’s three central characters. Silver’s acute observations and understated style are evident here as are her matter-of-fact, unapologetic characters. “You’ll know who you are when you start losing things,” declares one. With only a few known facts of the woman in Lange’s photograph, Silver has crafted a highly imaginative story that grabs the reader and won’t let go. ­VERDICT A must-read for Silver fans that is sure to win over many new followers; the acclaimed author’s best work to date.—Lisa Block, Atlanta, GA

Library Journal Reviews starred review Wayne, Teddy. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine. Free Pr.: S. & S. Feb. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781476705859. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476705873. F

Jonny Valentine is a talented tween singing sensation, much like Justin Bieber. This often scathing satire of manufactured celebrity follows the travails of the 11-year-old singer who is both its beneficiary and its victim. The novel centers on an eventful national tour that finds him embroiled in a fake romance for publicity purposes with a young female pop star, making an awkward visit to his hometown of St. Louis, generating bad publicity over a misadventure with the indie rock band opening his concerts, garnering more bad publicity after his mother/manager’s cocaine overdose, and finally in a concert at Madison Square Garden where he reconnects with his long-estranged father. VERDICT Narrated by the young singing sensation himself, the novel rides on the appealing combination of Jonny’s innocence and wisdom beyond his years. This is ultimately a satire with a heart, capturing the sadness, longing, and confusion beneath the celebrity veneer as Johnny tries to make sense of the confusing adult world around him and be loved in a way that has nothing to do with star-struck fans. A top-of–the-charts tale.—Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib., North Andover, MA

Library Journal Reviews starred review Nicholson, William. Motherland. S. & S. Apr. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781451687132. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781451687149. F

Stationed in Sussex during World War II, Kitty Teale loves her post as an army driver. Well versed in the art of flirting, Kitty thrives at keeping her would-be suitors at arm’s length. But when she meets Ed Avenell, a Royal Marine commando, and Larry, a liaison officer, she falls headfirst in love with one and strikes up an instant friendship with the other. While Ed may have gotten the girl, though, there is darkness within him that he struggles to keep at bay. Larry also loves Kitty, but the value he places on his friendships with Ed and Kitty lead him halfway around the world and back to find a love all his own. Spanning almost a decade, this novel chronicles the lives of its three main characters following their first meeting, and while the only possible ending becomes clear just over halfway through the story, the journey to realization is no less interesting.VERDICT Nicholson, a British screenwriter (GladiatorShadowlands), playwright, and novelist (I Could Love You), pays careful attention to historical details. He develops central characters that stir our emotions and keep us engaged even when the touted happy ending seems unlikely. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/12.]—Natasha Grant, New York

The following titles are reviewed in the February 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Atta, Sefi. A Bit of Difference. Interlink. 2012. 228p. ISBN 9781566568920. $25. F

Library Journal Reviews starred review Bell, Matt. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods. Soho, dist. by Random House. Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781616952532. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616952532. F

Bezos, Mackenzie. Traps: A Novel. Knopf. Mar. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780307959737. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307959744. F

Blas de Robles, Jean-Marie. Where Tigers Are at Home. Other. Feb. 2013. 832p. tr. from French by Mike Mitchell. ISBN 9781590515624. $32.50; ebk. ISBN 9781590515631. F

Bracewell, Patricia. Shadow on the Crown. Viking. Feb. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780670026395. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101606193. F

Library Journal Reviews starred review Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee. Oleander Girl. S. & S. Mar. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781451695656. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781101606193. F

Library Journal Reviews starred review Gass, William H. Middle C. Knopf. Mar. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780307701633. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307962263. F

Gilmore, Jennifer. The Mothers. Scribner. Apr. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781451697254. $$28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451697889. F

Library Journal Reviews starred review Hacker, Christopher. The Morels. Soho, dist. by Random House. Apr. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781616952433. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616952440. F

Library Journal Reviews starred review Haruf, Kent. Benediction. Knopf. Mar. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780307959881. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307959898. F

Library Journal Reviews starred review Hood, Ann. The Obituary Writer. Norton. Mar. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780393081428. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393089844. F

Iyer, Lars. Exodus. Melville House. Feb. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781612191829. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612191836. F

Kibler, Julie. Calling Me Home. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781250014528. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250014535. F

King, Owen. Double Feature. Scribner. Mar. 2013. ISBN 9781451676891. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451676914. F

Lipman, Elinor. The View from Penthouse B. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780547576213. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780547840628. F

Markert, James. A White Wind Blew. Sourcebooks. Mar. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781402278372. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402278389. F

Library Journal Reviews starred review Mason, Jamie. Three Graves Full. Gallery: S. & S. Feb. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781451685039. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451685053. F

Miller, Derek B. Norwegian by Night. Houghton Harcourt. May 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780547934877. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780547934884. F

Library Journal Reviews starred review Nayeri, Dina. A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Feb. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9781594487040. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101601990. F

Power, Henriette Lazaridis. The Clover House. Ballantine. Apr. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780345530684. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780345538949. F

Sarduy, Severo. Firefly. Archipelago. Mar. 2013. 176p. tr. from Spanish by Mark Fried. ISBN 9781935744641. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781935744917. F

Tremain, Rose. Merivel: A Man of His Time. Norton. Apr. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780393079579. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393240283. F

Waitzkin, Fred. The Dream Merchant. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781250011367. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250011374. F

Williams, David Wesley. Long Gone Daddies. John F. Blair. Mar. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780895875938. $24.95. F

Wolf, Christa. City of Angels; or, The Overcoat of Dr. Freud. Farrar. Feb. 2013. 336p. tr. from German by Damion Searls. ISBN 9780374269357. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781429942782. F

Russell, Karen. Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories. Knopf. Feb. 2013. 272p.ISBN 9780307957238. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307961082. F