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The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Sparrow (1996), by Mary Doria Russell, opens in 2059, in the aftermath of a disastrous Jesuit mission to make first contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. Emilio Sandoz, a priest and linguist who is the only survivor among the mission’s crew, has just returned to Earth physically mutilated and spiritually broken.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville takes us back to the colonization of Australia in this hauntingly atmospheric tale. Thornhill, a British convict, is sentenced to be deported to Australia for a petty crime committed in his quest to survive poverty. It’s a common story for the many people who were sent half way around the world to begin a new life in a harsh land.  

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

As the only Black woman working at prestigious Wagner Publishing in Manhattan, Nella Rogers yearns for another Black female colleague, someone able to empathize with the stresses and pressures Black people face on a daily basis, working in industries and socializing in work-related situations which, like publishing, are rife with the challenges of classism and racism, despite efforts exerted by the powers-that-be to pretend otherwise.

Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart

Well, I did it: I read one of the first works of “Pandemic Fiction” by a North American author. Too soon, you ask, for any author to do justice to the subject? Too soon to read about the last two complex and challenging years, laced with so much tragedy, especially as we’re not exactly out of the woods yet? I wondered too.

Teen Review: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

4 out of 5 Stars

“He had suddenly begun to have a sense that the reason he wanted the escape was not only in order to sacrifice thirty thousand on it and thus heal his scar, but also for some other reason. 'Is it because within my soul I am a murderer, too?' He had started to wonder. Something distant but burning had stung his soul.”