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S.M.C.'s Reviews

Susan McCloskey has worked at Bookshop Santa Cruz since graduating from UCSC in 2000. She is the former Event Coordinator at Bookshop and continues to consult for the store. In her other life, she is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She believes in story, and loves the meld of working with books, narrative, and people.

The Best of Us by Joyce Maynard

Joyce Maynard (bestselling of author of At Home in the World) has written a touching and sincere book about finding strength and life in the midst of hardship. In their late 50’s, Joyce and her soon-to-be husband, Jim, met for the first time. Each had been married, had children, and also then subsequently divorced. Neither Jim nor Joyce was particularly looking for love again, but there was a deep connection between the two, that neither could ignore. Maynard writes their story of reclaiming love and romance, getting married, and then dealing with the blow of Jim’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Praised by Anne Lamott for being full of “the tears and joy of life,” Maynard coveys with such clarity not just the honesty about the ugliness of illness, but also the unparalleled bond of intimacy and awareness that springs forth when life is on the line. - S.M.C.

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The Best of Us: A Memoir Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781635570342
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Bloomsbury USA - September 5th, 2017

The Push by Tommy Caldwell

This wonderful book is part memoir, part adventure and nature writing, and fully a tale of inspiration and hope. In 2015, Tommy Caldwell completed what is considered one of the hardest climbs in the world: a free climb up El Capitan’s vertical wall in Yosemite—that’s 3,000 feet of balance and strength using just his fingers and toes. The Push is an incredible account of endurance as well as a deeply engrossing memoir of a once-self-conscious boy finding the obsession and drive to overcome heartbreak and disappointment in order to achieve the seemingly impossible. - S.M.C.

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The Push: A Climber's Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780399562709
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Viking - May 16th, 2017

The Way We Lived, 35th Anniversary Edition edited by Malcolm Margolin

One of Heyday Books’ best-selling titles, The Way We Lived has been updated and revised. Collecting stories, songs, chants, and knowledge from Native American tribes throughout California, this book shows what life looked like in California before colonization by whites and illuminates the remarkable and determined perseverance of Native cultures in modern times. - S.M.C.

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The Way We Lived: California Indian Stories, Songs and Reminiscences Cover Image
By Malcolm Margolin (Editor), Michael Connolly Miskwish (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781597143936
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Heyday Books - June 1st, 2017

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

This is one of the best nonfiction books I have read in a long time. Part memoir, part investigative journalism, it is a riveting book of surprising depth. As a young law student, Marzano-Lesnevich came across a murder that she couldn’t let go of, as it brought up memories of her own past. Years later, now a journalist and writer, she went back to it, and using her investigative skills and compassionate curiosity, tried to understand the humanity that can still exist within brutal acts. This is an unforgettable read on the nature of forgiveness and the complexity of “fact” in the legal system, when truth is constructed from the intricacy that drives the human heart. - S.M.C.

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The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781250080547
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Flatiron Books - May 16th, 2017

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie has written a memoir! My anticipation of this book is brimming to the boiling point. Alexie, known for his sharp wit and gifted storytelling, has turned his focus to the personal. After his mother died, Alexie used writing to deal with his grief, and in this collage of essays, photos, and poems, he gives a window onto his life growing up poor on an Indian reservation. With humor, anger, wit, and raw, poignant love, Alexie also writes of the life of his mother—a complex woman who helped shape the writer and man that Alexie would become. - S.M.C.

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You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316270755
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - June 13th, 2017

Mischling by Affinity Konar

Praised by Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See), this book immediately caught my eye. It is not an easy story to read, but it transcends despair with imaginative grace and voice. The book opens with 12-year-old twin sisters Stacha and Pearl as they enter Auschwitz, selected to be participants in Josef Mengele’s “Zoo.” Alternating between each sister’s point of view, Mischling is a lyrical tale of survival, loyalty, and love, where children create meaning and magic despite their surroundings; a beautiful read that had a profound impact. - S.M.C.

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Mischling Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316308090
Availability: Backordered
Published: Lee Boudreaux / Back Bay Books - May 30th, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

There is something delightful in growing to love a curmudgeon. Gail Honeyman has us see the world through Eleanor Oliphant’s eyes. Quirky, prudish, and filled with dry wit, the world seems a bit askew and awfully rigid as Eleanor moves through it. But a chance encounter in which she is forced into helping a stranger starts Eleanor on a journey of discovering the beauty in relationship. Honeyman slowly unveils the tragedy behind how Eleanor became Eleanor. This book had me intermittently laughing, cheering, and tearing. - S.M.C.

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735220683
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Pamela Dorman Books - May 9th, 2017

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

I was drawn to this novel by its premise…a little boy who repeats a tale of such confusion and chaos that those around him are unsure of whether to suspect abuse or an early diagnosis of childhood schizophrenia.  Yet as the novel continues, we understand that the boy is in fact remembering—trying desperately to understand his present day life, with the life that he had before.  Interweaving actual documentation of reincarnation by children who seem to be able to report data and substantiated facts of the life they lived before, Guskin weaves together a wonderful tale that is at once a murder-mystery, a depiction of love and loss, and an active questioning of the clarity between past and present. The topics that are touched in this novel are fodder for Bookgroups, and while this is a page-turner, it is also a literary debut that brings to front the scope of just how much we do not know. - S.M.C.

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The Forgetting Time: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250118714
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - February 7th, 2017

Antelope Woman by Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich first published this title as The Antelope Wife in 1998, but on a road trip she was hit with an understanding that she had to go back to the novel, and rewrite it: one of her protagonists was demanding a different perspective. The result is this new shape-shift of a novel, published in 2016, and now titled Antelope Woman. Weaving in and out between present day and history, as well as the urban city versus the remote reservation, Erdrich tells the story of Klaus Shawano who abducts Sweetheart Calico, an Ojibwe woman who is as alluring as she is mysterious. As the story continues, we see how this one act is actually a culmination of history in the making, as unbeknownst to Klaus, his family as long been intertwined with that of Sweetheart’s. Erdrich writes in her foreword to this rewritten novel that Sweetheart is her “wise wildness”—and oh how the novel captures that. A completely mesmerizing tale of the collision between love and obsession, mothers and daughters, white and indigenous, past and present, magic and reality, and humor and tragedy, bookgroups will be stunned by how one seemingly haphazard act reveals itself to be a beautiful tale of interconnection and history. - S.M.C.

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Antelope Woman: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062375285
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - October 25th, 2016

Please Enjoy Your Happiness by Paul Brinkley-Rogers

Paul Brinkley-Rogers is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author best known for his journalism as a war correspondent. Now retired, he has written a more personal story, one that he waited a half century to tell. At 19, as a sailor aboard the USS Shangri-La, stationed in Japan shortly after the United States had dropped its nuclear bombs, he met Kaji Yukiko, a Japanese woman 10 years his senior. With her, he saw firsthand the complexity of the effects of the war as well as the complexity of a redemptive love without a happy ending. This poignant memoir bridges time, culture, and distance. This quiet and vivid memoir is one of the best I have read in years. —S.M.C.


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Please Enjoy Your Happiness: A Memoir Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781501151255
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Touchstone - August 2nd, 2016


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