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PEOPLE PICK

Visitation Street

by Ivy Pochoda |

REVIEWED BY ELLEN SHAPIRO

NOVEL

Two stir-crazy 15-year-olds try to beat the Brooklyn heat by launching a raft off Red Hook, a onetime longshoremen’s enclave that’s now a mishmash of abandoned warehouses, hipster renovations and housing projects. When one girl disappears and the other is found half-dead, the shock waves affect an eclectic bunch of Red Hookers – a Lebanese bodega owner, a hard-drinking Juilliard dropout, a graffiti artist and a teen grieving his father’s murder and longing for a better life. Through their eyes Red Hook emerges as a captivating small town, a place where the locals eat “fried chicken from the bulletproof Chinese window,” skeevy bars host artists wearing “baseball caps for losing teams,” and kids from “the Houses” know the richer, white “waterside girls” are off-limits. Somewhere in this bustling clash of cultures lies the truth about the missing girl, yet Visitation Street is no conventional whodunit. Cops pop in and out, but the answers, when they come, are homegrown and completely satisfying – just one more touch of magic in Pochoda’s utterly transporting novel.

Freud’s Mistress

by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman |

REVIEWED BY CAROL MEMMOTT

NOVEL

Minna Bernays calls her sexual encounters with Sigmund Freud “demanding” and their depravity “delicious,” a word that also describes this reimagining of what historians believe was Freud’s long affair with his sister-in-law. The father of psychoanalysis tells Minna, “the couch is my laboratory,” but it’s the bedroom scenes and the betrayal, not the science, that will enthrall readers.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods

by Gavin Extence |

REVIEWED BY ROBIN MICHELI

NOVEL

The great joy of this quirky novel is Alex Woods, an English boy who’s been hit by a meteorite. Alex recounts what follows with charm and wit, even when it includes seizures, bullying and the grave illness of his best friend, an old man. Pulsing with humor and insight, this book is a delight.

Mother Daughter Me

by Katie Hafner |

REVIEWED BY ERICA JONG

MEMOIR

Katie Hafner is an optimist, but for even the most incurable of that species, living with an aging, alcoholic mother and a moody teenage daughter is a recipe for a family crisis. Unsatisfied with the parenting she received from her brilliant, bumptious mom, Hafner was attempting to redo her half-finished nurturing. It didn’t work, but her memoir shines a light on nurturing deficits repeated through generations and will lead many readers to relive their own struggles with forgiveness.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO KIM HUBBARD: bookseditor@peoplemag.com