The Ninth Hour - Alice McDermott

Staff Pick

Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26) is a stunning novel.  Stunning in its intelligence.  Stunning in its compassion.  Stunning in its lucidity and clear-eyed storytelling. As the story begins, a young man commits suicide and inadvertently sets his apartment on fire.  When his young, pregnant wife learns of it, she is immediately taken under the wing of an elderly Catholic nun, Sister St. Savior, whose vocation is to tend to people undergoing tragedy.  With her baby girl in tow, the young widow finds work in the convent laundry and she and her daughter become part of the sisters’ community.  That child, Polly, aspires to a clerical vocation, but her idealism pales with her understanding of the religious life and she falls in love and gets married. That this short novel can span an entire generation with such unerring economy and power is truly a testament to McDermott’s skill. Like the best of her earlier books, The Ninth Hour is a literary treasure.

The Ninth Hour: A Novel By Alice McDermott Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374280147
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 19th, 2017

Sing, Unburied, Sing - Jesmyn Ward

Staff Pick

In Sing, Unburied, Sing (Simon & Schuster, $26) Jesmyn Ward takes magical realism and uses it as a device through which readers can hear the marginalized voices of the Mississippi Gulf coast. Our main character is thirteen-year-old Jojo, who is taken on a road trip with his drug-addicted mother, Leonie, when his father is released from prison. Both Jojo and Leonie become haunted by ghosts, Leonie by her brother’s, and Jojo by the spirt of a young boy, as the two travel across the South. Ward tells this story with beautiful prose and brings light into the darkness of the American past. We are shown how important it is to understand our personal histories and how they continue to affect our futures. Each character here is endearing in his or her own way. This book is compelling because of the way it merges the past with the present. While each character is flawed, Ward humanizes all of them and shows how compassion is necessary when learning about the lives of people we often shun or overlook. This is a great book for anyone who loves to read William Faulkner or Toni Morrison.

Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel By Jesmyn Ward Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501126062
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - September 5th, 2017

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America - Richard Rothstein

Staff Pick

Contrary to what many believe, Richard Rothstein states boldly at the start of his book, segregated neighborhoods in the United States didn’t result mostly from individual prejudices, personal choices, or the actions of such private institutions as banks and real estate agencies. They were instead largely a consequence of public policy—of purposeful, systematic, forceful government action. In The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (Liveright, $27.95), Rothstein describes how laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments promoted discriminatory patterns and the development of racially homogenous neighborhoods. The measures included explicit racial zoning, officially segregated public housing, redlining of mortgages, and conditioning of Federal Housing Administration subsidies for builders on no homes being sold to African Americans. Rothstein argues that as a nation, we have an obligation to remedy the lasting effects of this segregation and have paid an enormous price in the form of wide income disparities and other inequalities by allowing this injustice to fester.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America By Richard Rothstein Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631492853
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Liveright - May 2nd, 2017