Title: American Dirt

Author: Jeanine Cummins

Pages: 480 Pages

Publisher: Tinder Press

The Blurb

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

The Review

Wow.

It has been a good few years since I have read a book that has opened my eyes to a completely different way of life but man oh man American Dirt did that for me.

Whilst I am aware of the controversy that has surrounded the release of this title I am also aware that books of this ilk need to be written. And yes, author Jeanine Cummins may not get everything right and may have ruffled some feathers with her creation the alternative is that we never get a glimpse into other worlds.

I mean, isn’t that the point of literature? To make us more empathetic?

With American Dirt I felt the desperation of a situation that I couldn’t even begin to contemplate. A mother’s love, a journey across borders, chance encounters. It is a book of an epic journey.

I cannot recommend American Dirt enough. It is one of the strongest narratives that I have read in2020 so far.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is available now.

For more information regarding Jeanine Cummins (@jeaninecummins) please visit www.jeaninecummins.com.

For more information regarding Tinder Press (@TinderPress) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

Title: Tin Man

Author: Sarah Winman

Pages: 226 Pages

Publisher: Tinder Press

The Blurb

This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that.

Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.

But then we fast-forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?

With beautiful prose and characters that are so real they jump off the page, Tin Man is a love letter to human kindness and friendship, and to loss and living.

The Review

I had heard a great many positive things about the book Tin Man by Sarah Winman. Personally, I feel that this was to the book’s detriment. I liked the story, don’t get me wrong, but I was expecting a spectacular story that would stay with me for years. And whilst it was a good story it really didn’t floor me.

It was the story of Ellis and his relationship with both men and women and how these relationships along with loss and tragedy shaped who he is and who he longs to be.

What I will say about Tin Man is that it is a quiet, reflective and subtle novel that looks at bisexuality in a very honest and endearing way. It is almost like it isn’t really part of the story but it is very much a focus. I think that is Winman’s power as a writer is that she doesn’t make the obvious seem bodacious, different or a point of focus.

If you like a good, reflective read then Tin Man by Sarah Winman is for you.

Tin Man by Sarah Winman is available now.

For more information regarding Tinder Press (@TinderPress) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

Title: Look at Me

Author: Sarah Deguid

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Headline/Tinder Press

The Blurb

Lizzy’s mother died two years ago, leaving a family bereft by her absence and a house still filled with her things. Then, one day, Lizzy finds a letter from a stranger to her father, and discovers he has another child. Lizzy invites her into their world in an act of outraged defiance. Almost immediately, she realises her mistake.

The Review

Ok, so this is a confusing one for me. I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of Look at Me but it is undeniable that the writing was good. I say this because Sarah Deguid genuinely managed to creep me out. Her story telling was exceptional in the sense that the character driven tale was really engaging and you felt Lizzy’s discomfort so fervently that it could quite easily be your own discomfort. So whilst I say I didn’t like the book it was not because it wasn’t good but I was so uncomfortable that it made me not like it which in my view is the sign of good writing.

Sorry Sarah Deguid, I didn’t like your book but in the most positive way.

Look at Me by Sarah Deguid is available now.

For more information regarding Tinder Press (@TinderPress) please visit www.tinderpress.co.uk.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

Synopsis

The lives of three women become intrinsically linked through a set of circumstances beyond their control. The way they handle the changes, the chance encounters and the choices they make all impact their future and how they are seen by others.

Review

Strange Girls and Ordinary Woman is very much a book driven by its characters. It is very languorous in its pace and not very much actually happens. Although, on reflection, a lot actually does; the book is laden with affairs, the sultry and seedy nightlife of the world of stripping, religious integrity, travel yet it all seems very calm and composed – reflective, almost.

However, what is inarguable is the strength of its three leading ladies – Alice, Vic and Kaya. Alice discovers her own strength when the shackles of a loveless marriage make her take stand and account for herself as an individual. Vic learns to stop judging others by the standards that she sets for herself. And Kaya learns to allow herself to be loved – or at least that is the optimistic slant that I am placing on its ambiguous but hopeful ending.

Out of all the characters, it is the chameleon like Kaya who is the most interesting. She is misunderstood by so many of the other characters within the narrative that you genuinely want to protect her and see her get something good from life. It is almost heartbreaking that she seems to hit hurdle after hurdle, life constantly throwing bad things in her way.

Strange Girls and Ordinary Women isn’t a light read but it is effortless in its lyrical style. You do become swallowed up whole by the story and I will admit that I lost myself for a few hours between the pages. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to those who like character driven novels.

Strange Girls and Ordinary Women by Morgan McCarthy is available now.

Strange Girls and Ordinary Women

Synopsis

On the outskirts of New York, Elephant Beach to be exact, Katie and her friends are spending their final summer growing up. Having recently graduated from high school, Katie and co should be full of hope and excitement for the future yet they are all festering in a dying seaside town that is dealing with working class problems, teen marriage and pregnancy and the repercussions of the war in Vietnam.

The most hopeful among the residents is Katie, yet she is the least enthusiastic to let her life in Elephant Beach end.

Review

Firstly, I would like to say a massive thank you to Georgina Moore at Headline Books for sending me a copy of this book. I really do appreciate it.

If I Knew You were going to be this Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let you Go is an absolutely stunning novel which is exploding with atmosphere in an oh so subtle way. The story doesn’t fly off the page and make your heart race with desperate need to know what is about to happen, however, Chicurel does make you want to read on, keep reading ahead and find out more about the lives of those who inhabit Elephant Beach.

You could almost argue that it is very Salinger-esque in that it is a novel where almost nothing happens. The story instead focuses on the intricacies of the family unit, the dynamics of friendship and how they have been impacted by the Vietnamese war; a social study of life in 1970s America.

What is tackled throughout the book is the feeling of loss and loneliness – loss of oneself, loss of identity and loss of faith among many things. Our protagonist, Katie, seems to be bombarded with loss throughout the novel. She never really knows who she is being that she is a child of adoption, her friends either keep moving away, getting married or pregnant – therefore her social circle declines rapidly or the people that she wants to know more of are so changed by war that it makes it near on impossible.

Yet, ironically, it seems that Katie is the most comfortable of all the characters to be left at Elephant Beach. She is cleverly juxtaposed as the character with the most potential yet the one most unwilling to let go and move on.

If I Knew You were going to be this Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let you Go is a striking coming of age novel, one that teaches you that life isn’t easy, growing up is hard but we all have to face the future at some point.

If I Knew You were going to be this Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let you Go by Judy Chicurel is available now.