Hut's Place
 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

February 18, 2018

Timely Courtroom Drama and an Inept Time Traveler Featured in New Paperback Arrivals
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. The prolific Picoult tackles racism in a taut tale that evolves into a courtroom drama. The author drew upon a real incident in Flint, Michigan, to set up her story of Ruth, an African-American labor-and- delivery nurse who is ordered by her hospital superiors not to interact with the baby of white supremacist parents who don't want her to touch their child. The next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery and Ruth's hesitation before performing CPR leads to the baby's death. That leads to  a wrongful death criminal charge and a racially charged trial.  

There have been grumblings from some about a white author writing about racial politics, but there's no question that Picoult raises questions that deserve discussion. She also has Ruth defended by a white, female attorney who comes to terms with her own issues of racism as the trial proceeds. 

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. Last year's #1 Indie Next pick for February enjoyed modest sales in hardcover, but this engaging time-travel/dystop ian-romance romp should do better in softcover. It's a story of interconnected alternative realities and, as such, requires some concentration to keep track of  where our intrepid time traveler, Tom Barren, actually is. Tom is visiting our world in 2016 from a different 2016 - a technology-driven utopian version. Turns out Tom took a trip back to 1965 and messed with history enough to leave us with our existing society. Now he has a chance to return to '65, fix his mistake, and return us all to the perfect world he knows. But alas, there are complications involving family, friends, and lovers who will exist - or not - depending on what he decides to do. If you're willing to go along with the premise, Mastai writes with humor and an easy style.  
 Imprisonment of Innocent Man Strains Contemporary African-American Marriage  
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. This week's independent bookstore bestseller list features two brand-new releases debuting on the Hardcover Fiction list at #1 and #2. On top is The Great Alone, which I featured in last week's column, and right behind it is this compelling novel about a young  African-American couple whose new marriage is torn asunder by a travesty of justice that lands the husband in a Louisiana prison.

Roy and Celestial have been married for a year. He's a corporate executive and she an
up-and-coming artist, so the future looks bright. Then Roy is falsely accused of raping a woman and sentenced to a 12-year prison term. Celestial knows he's innocent, but the strain is difficult and she eventually turns to one of her and Roy's best friend, Andre, for comfort - and soon more. After five years, Roy is set free and heads home to find a now-successful Celestial and Andre together. As might be expected, new dynamics and old regrets make for a challenging effort at rebuilding a marriage, and Jones adds racial and gender tensions to the conflict to good effect. It's a book that captured the eye of Oprah Winfrey, who recently chose it for her next book club selection. I suspect you'll be hearing about An American Marriage over the next several months. 

Many of you already have a favorite local bookstore, but for those of you without such a relationship, you can click here to find the
nearest indie bookstore by simply entering your postal code.  

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Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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