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Shine Shine Shine

by Lydia Netzer |

REVIEWED BY ROBIN MICHELI

NOVEL

Leaving his pregnant wife, Sunny, back home in Norfolk, Va., a rather mad scientist named Maxon is launched into space on a mission to colonize the moon with robots. Sunny is perfect, blonde and the leader of her wealthy neighborhood’s social circle, but she’s struggling in Maxon’s absence to care for their autistic son and her dying mother. Then a fender-bender really sends her life askew-by knocking her wig off. Sunny is actually bald! The set-up sounds comical, but the story that unfolds is not only entertaining but nuanced and wise. While Sunny initially feels that she and her husband are freaks, his courage and success on the moon-and hers on Earth-help her realize that embracing one’s “defects” can light the way in life and lead to deeply satisfying bonds. Blending wit and imagination with an oddly mesmerizing, matter-of-fact cadence, Netzer’s debut is a delightfully unique love story and a resounding paean to individuality.

Tigers in Red Weather

by Liza Klaussmann |

REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

NOVEL

It’s 1945, and life is full of promise for two pretty cousins summering on Martha’s Vineyard while anticipating married life. Over the decades they return, families in tow, to revisit the rituals of cocktails and sailing, but this idyllic facade inevitably cracks, breaking open to reveal ugliness and terror. First-time author Klaussmann may not have the literary chops of her great-great-great grandfather Herman Melville, but she’s cooked up a deft, nasty plot.

Some of My Best Friends Are Black

by Tanner Colby |

REVIEWED BY ROSS DRAKE

NON-FICTION

The title, of course, is ironic: Colby had no black friends. Suspecting the reasons were sociological rather than personal, the Brooklyn-based writer went home to Alabama, where the end of segregation in schools marked the beginning of white flight; to Missouri to explore the cynical dynamics of residential apartheid; and elsewhere. The result is an unretouched snapshot of race in America, where the past, as Colby discovered, is still very much with us.

How to Be a Woman

by Caitlin Moran |

REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

NON-FICTION

“When did feminism become confused with Buddhism?” London Times columnist Moran writes. “Why … have I, because I’m a woman, got to be nice to everyone?” Part memoir and part thinky-thoughts on the issues women obsess about-from pubic hair and fat to why we should have children (or not)-How to Be a Woman is scathingly funny and mostly unprintable here. But Moran makes us think about femininity and feminism, and whether you agree or not, she’s fascinating.

Where We Belong

by Emily Giffin |

REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

TV producer Marian Caldwell has it all: hit show, swanky apartment, hunky boyfriend. But the explosive secret she’s harbored for nearly two decades detonates when Kirby, the girl she gave up for adoption, knocks on her door. While Kirby hopes to understand why she feels like an outsider in her home, it’s Marian who winds up with the most soul-searching to do. Even those with everything, Giffin suggests, may need what money can’t buy: a second chance.