Christine DeZelar-Tiedman

105 Articles

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PREMIUM

The Seventh Mansion

Meijer (Rag) does a creditable job of connecting the troubled psychology of a contemporary teen with the sometimes lurid accounts of the lives of saints, suggesting that the extremities of their respective devotions are similar. Not for everyone, but refreshingly bold and original.

Jack

Robinson fans will be hungry for the next chapter in the Gilead saga, and the beauty and humanity of Robinson’s prose will win over new fans. Highly recommended.

PREMIUM

Payback

Award winner Gordon (Final Payments) stacks the deck a bit too much in Agnes’s favor, making her eminently likable and sympathetic, despite her undeniable privilege. Heidi/Quin is the clear villain. The moral dilemma could have been more evenhanded, although perhaps that would have undercut Gordon’s aim of indicting the glorification of meanness that has seeped into contemporary American culture.

What Are You Going Through

Deeply empathetic without being sentimental, this novel explores women’s lives, their choices, and how they support one another, particularly when they don’t have spouses or children or those relationships have become strained. Highly recommended for readers who favor emotional resonance over escapism during difficult times. [See Prepub Alert, 2/24/20.]

PREMIUM

The Vanishing Half

With large sections focusing on the viewpoints of Desiree, Jude, Stella, and Kennedy in turn, Bennett allows readers’ perspectives and sympathies to shift, providing empathy for their difficult choices.

PREMIUM

The Boy in the Field

There are perhaps a few too many coincidences in an attempt to tie up loose ends, but Livesey does well by her teenage protagonists while offering a vivid portrait of life among intellectuals in an Oxford-vicinity village.
PREMIUM

Empire of Wild

This new work from Canadian Métis writer Dimaline, celebrated for her YA novel The Marrow Thieves, recalls Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in its grittiness and humor as well as its depiction of gods and legendary creatures interfering in the lives of contemporary humans. Despite Joan’s tendency to smoke and drink too much and make foolish choices, her dogged determination to reclaim Victor and her belief in their love make her someone to root for. [See Prepub Alert, 1/15/20.]
PREMIUM

Sea Wife

This book’s unusual structure is effective once you figure out what Gaige is up to. There are multiple layers to explore for contemporary literary scholars or a committed book club, as Gaige (Schroder) has much to say about the struggles and complexities of marriage, particularly in our current political and cultural climate. [See Prepub Alert, 11/4/19.]

Writers & Lovers

While never minimizing the seriousness of Casey’s personal problems, the book is also funny and romantic and hard to put down, full of well-observed details of restaurant culture and writer’s workshops. It’s hard to imagine a reader who wouldn’t root for Casey. [See Prepub Alert, 9/9/19.].

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