A Memoir of Violence and Complicated Memory

Book review: The Other Side, by Lacy M. Johnson (Amazon / Book Depository) The short version: Lacy Johnson was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend and held prisoner in a soundproofed basement he'd constructed solely for the purpose of raping and brutally killing her. He didn't succeed in killing her. This book is about that event, how it... Continue Reading →

The Boy Next Door, the Past, and a Sense of Place

Book review: Riverine, by Angela Palm (Amazon / Book Depository) Angela Palm grew up in rural Indiana, in a house built in a dried-out riverbed created by redirecting the Kankakee River, their little town not even designated on maps. Next door lived a boy named Corey, and they had the typical girl-and-boy-next-door relationship, into their adolescence. They... Continue Reading →

Midyear Recap (…A Little Late)

I wasn't planning to do a midyear best-of list, and July is already half gone, so...well past the halfway mark. But realizing how many truly excellent nonfiction titles have come out already this year, I thought a year-end recap would be way too long if I didn't collect some standouts from the year's beginning! And... Continue Reading →

Real Life Essays with a Little Raunch

Book review: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby (Amazon/ Book Depository) Samantha Irby is the Chicago-based blogger behind the popular, ultra-honest, hilariously confessional blog Bitches Gotta Eat. She opens her personal essay collection with a piece about how she'd fill out an application to be a Bachelorette contestant. It's a pretty wonderful, hilarious introduction,... Continue Reading →

Guilt, Grief, and Finally Getting the Truth

Book review: Alligator Candy, by David Kushner When he was four years old, journalist and writer David Kushner's older brother Jon took off on his bike, riding through the woods of their neighborhood in Tampa, Florida en route to the 7-11, on a quest for candy. Before he left, David asked him to bring him the... Continue Reading →

Lost is an OK State to Be In

Book review: All Over the Place, by Geraldine DeRuiter (Amazon / Book Depository) Geraldine deRuiter is the voice behind The Everywhereist, a funny, quirky travel blog. She started writing about her travels, and often her ineptitude in accomplishing them, after losing her job in the recession, thus freeing her up to accompany her husband, a workaholic SEO... Continue Reading →

Not-So-Sunny Sides of the Sunshine State

Book review: Sunshine State, by Sarah Gerard Sunshine State, up and coming literary darling Sarah Gerard's essay collection rooted in her childhood home state of Florida, hits some high highs and low lows. The opening essay, "BFF", starts the book out as strongly as it could possibly be started; I was hooked. Gerard dreamily, wistfully... Continue Reading →

Food As Love in Any Language

Book review: The Language of Baklava, by Diana Abu-Jaber (Amazon / Book Depository) I'm falling in love with "foodoirs" lately. Those are food-themed memoirs, in case you're late to the genre, like I was. This one moved me more than I unexpected. Novelist Diana Abu-Jaber was born in America to a Jordanian immigrant father and an... Continue Reading →

Tales of a Teen Rehab From Hell

Book review: The Dead Inside, by Cyndy Etler In the late 80s, Cyndy Etler seemed to be a fairly typical Connecticut teenager. Her real problem was abuse at the hands of her creepy French stepfather, which her mother noticed and ignored, leaving her daughter instead to struggle to defend herself. With that kind of frustration in her home... Continue Reading →

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