Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2014, Pt. 2: Baggott, Chua/Rubenfeld, Corrigan, Hoffman, Senior, Vanderbes

Baggott, Julianna. Burn. Grand Central. Feb. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9781455502998. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455503025;  lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455551651. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. DYSTOPIAN
In Baggott’s scarily beautiful Pure, those not safely under the Dome at the moment of the blinding Detonations 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. In Fuse, Willux uses threats to lure back Partridge, who leaves behind friends Pressia and Bradwell. Here, Partridge has replaced his father, intent on bringing down the Dome, but starts having doubts even as Pressia and Bradwell track down ways to cure the Wretches of their awful fusings. The trilogy is set to become a Fox film, with James Ponsoldt directing. Read it before it hits the screen; the gorgeous writing surpasses that of The Hunger Games.

Chua, Amy & Jed Rubenfeld. The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America. Penguin Pr. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781594205460. $27.95. CD: Penguin Audio. SOCIOLOGY
Two Yale Law School professors—Chua, the controversial Tiger Mom herself, and husband Rubenfeld, author of the thriller The Interpretation of Murder, controversial in its own way—join to consider what makes certain cultural groups in America rise above others. Yes, their argument goes against our egalitarian persuasion and will surely set teeth on edge—all the more reason to read and debate. The authors point to cultural success stories from Mormons in business to the rate of doctorates among Nigerians to highly paid Chinese Americans and Jews, then deduce three principles: members of such groups believe that they are exceptional, yet  feel a need to prove themselves, and work for future goals instead of immediate satisfaction. Great expectations.

Corrigan, Kelly. Glitter and Glue. Ballantine. Feb. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9780345532831. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780345532848. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. MEMOIR
I’ve been hearing this book touted for months as a stellar memoir, so listen up. Corrigan, whose New York Times best-selling memoirs include The Middle Place and Lift—and whose “Transcending” video on YouTube has been seen by five million viewers and counting—here celebrates her mother, who always said of Corrigan’s father “He may be the glitter, but I’m the glue.” Corrigan identified more with her fun-loving father, but when she went to Australia as a young woman in the 1990s and found herself the nanny to children whose mother had just died, she started drawing on all the wisdom her mother had imparted. With a ten-city author tour and book club promotion.

Hoffman, Alice. The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Scribner. Feb. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781451693560. $27.99. POP FICTION
More magic from the reliable Hoffman, whose latest novel is set in early 1900s New York. Coralie Sardie, whose father owns Coney Island’s Museum of Extraordinary Things, where Coralie performs as a mermaid, encounters Eddie Cohen one night as he photographs trees shining with moonlight along the Hudson. He’s a Russian immigrant who has better things to do with his life than remain in his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community as an apprentice tailor. Even as their romance unfolds, Eddie captures images of the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and investigates a girl’s disappearance.

Senior, Jennifer. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood. Ecco. Feb. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780062072221. $26.99. PARENTING
Senior’s book started out as a New York Magazine cover story that prompted incredible response and media coverage elsewhere. The book itself was featured on the 2013 BEA Editors Buzz Panel. All of which recommends your checking out Senior’s discussion about parenthood today, which focuses on how parents are shaped by their children. The last 50 years have seen unprecedented changes in the parental role, and Senior draws on history, economics, psychology, and more to paint portraits of the crucial parent-child interaction. With a 75,000-copy first printing and an eight-city tour to Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Vanderbes, Jennifer. The Secret of Raven Point. Scribner. Feb. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781439167007. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781439167052. LITERARY FICTION
Vanderbes, who made her name with the shimmering Easter Island (a personal favorite that got several best book nods) and cemented it with Strangers at a Feast, returns with a World War II story that could be read in conjunction with Thomas Keneally’s recent The Daughters of Mars. When her brother goes missing in battle, Juliet Dufresne—already studying nursing while dreaming of becoming another Madame Curie—leaves South Carolina behind, lying about her age so that she can enlist as an army nurse. Even as she searches for word of her brother, she works at a field hospital in Italy, befriending patients and staff alike and discovering an assured sense of self. Serious readers, unite. Originally scheduled for June 2013 as The Secret of Pigeon Point.


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.