I still can’t believe we’re already three months into 2017 and I’ve yet to shrug any of this hibernation fat I accumulated last year. Anyways, now is not the time for wallowing—not yet, at least—because Book of the Month just announced its March 2017 selections! And as usual, I AM PUMPED!
Thankfully, this month’s picks are top-notch compared to February’s choices. Even though I’d like nothing more than to drain what’s left of my bank account on all of these books, it’s probably best that I stick to just one…for now…maybe.
Not to mention, I’m still wrapping up the other books on from last month’s TBR, including Everything I Never Told You, which I only finished recently and am prepping a review as we speak. Nonetheless, it’s always a pleasure to see which new books the BOTM judges are talking about each month. And telling by the list we have here, there seems to be a ton of goodies!
These are Book of the Month’s March 2017 Selections
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The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel
In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded. — Goodreads
He abandoned his car, hiked into the Maine woods, and lived in solitude for 27 years, without speaking to or touching another human being. — Judge, Liberty Hardy
Marlena, Julie Buntin
Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat, inexperienced and desperate for connection, is quickly lured into Marlena’s orbit by little more than an arched eyebrow and a shake of white-blond hair. As the two girls turn the untamed landscape of their desolate small town into a kind of playground, Cat catalogs a litany of firsts—first drink, first cigarette, first kiss—while Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past. — Goodreads
Buntin taps into something authentic, a core nugget so true that it feels like, in reading this novel, Marlena happened to me. — Judge, Steph Opitz
All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg
Who is Andrea Bern? When her therapist asks the question, Andrea knows the right things to say: she’s a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. But it’s what she leaves unsaid—she’s alone, a drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed, captain of the sinking ship that is her flesh—that feels the most true. Everyone around her seems to have an entirely different idea of what it means to be an adult: her best friend, Indigo, is getting married; her brother—who miraculously seems unscathed by their shared tumultuous childhood—and sister-in-law are having a hoped-for baby; and her friend Matthew continues to wholly devote himself to making dark paintings at the cost of being flat broke. But when Andrea’s niece finally arrives, born with a heartbreaking ailment, the Bern family is forced to reexamine what really matters. Will this drive them together or tear them apart? — Goodreads
First I fall in love with the voice, dry and direct but not rude. I understand that the protagonist is not a heroine, but she is not not a heroine either. — Judge, Laia Garcia (Deputy Editor, Lenny Letter)
Exit West, Mohsin Hamid
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. — Goodreads
You can’t walk away from this novel and feel unchanged, because nothing I’ve read before has made me feel what it is to have your native city become an uninhabitable war zone. — Judge, Leigh Haber (Books Editor, O Magazine)
Dead Letters, Caite Dolan-Leach
Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava renounces her terribly practical undergraduate degree, acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. Two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.
Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls’ increasingly unstable mother, Zelda was allegedly burned alive when she passed out in the barn with a lit cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message from her sister.
Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues about her disappearance. With the police stuck on a red herring, Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama and her outlandish circle of friends and lovers. Along the way, Zelda forces her twin to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke Ava’s heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving, or to teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending? — Goodreads
The clues that Zelda leaves for Ava are so much more than standard mystery misdirection. They are a window into the myths a family creates around one another. — Judge, Sarah Weinman
From Editor-in-chief, Paris Close: Without a doubt, my first choice would have to be Dead Letters—it’s the only book on this list that seems comparable to Gone Girl. I know, Paris, would you shut up talking about Gone Girl! I honestly can’t help it! Though my second pick may well be Marlena because it seems to follow the same premise: girl gone missing (or supposedly dies). Ugh, this one is so tough!
I’ve been itching for a good thriller for a long time. I’m currently reading last month’s pick, Behind Her Eyes, and the pacing hasn’t been doing it for me—it’s teetering DNF territory at this point. Exit West does sound interesting, though, but I’m not sure how I’ll take to any more love stories since I read Nicholas Sparks. All Grown Up could be an exciting read, too, and it looks promising enough but I don’t think that’s enough to hold me over.
Unlike the other months, though, this decision is going to be a bit slanted seeing as I already have Dead Letters checked out from the library. As silly as it sounds, I might be going with my runner-up choice, Marlena, because it’s written by a Michigander and the story itself is located in Michigan, too. I’m officially torn.
I think it’s just as important to note the fact that Liberty’s picks haven’t been doing it for me lately. Coincidentally enough, though, I already own The Stranger in the Woods as an ARC—I received it awhile back, though I’ve yet to find the time (or interest) to read it. Who knows. It’s there for a reason, anyway…
Marlena or Dead Letters? Grrr, I think I’ll have to use my extra book credit this time to take them both home.
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