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Be prepared
2018
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Trade Reviews

  New York Times Review

THE OVERSTORY, by Richard Powers. (Norton, $27.95.) The science of botany and the art of storytelling merge to ingenious effect in Powers's magisterial new novel - a story in which people are merely the underbrush and the real protagonists are the trees that the human characters encounter. STRAY CITY, by Chelsey Johnson. (Custom House, $25.99.) Among the delights of this engrossing debut novel, about a single young lesbian mother, is how clearly Johnson delineates the psychosexual dualities and prejudices of our culture - how effortlessly she instructs even as she entertains. THINKING WITHOUT A BANISTER: Essays in Understanding, 1953-1975, by Hannah Arendt. Edited by Jerome Kohn. (Schocken, $40.) Arendt's urbane and unceremonious style is in full display in these essays from the last two decades of her life. Many of the pieces deal with political events and intellectual issues of the time, but they retain a striking relevance in the Age of Trump. THE SANDMAN, by Lars Kepler. Translated by Neil Smith. (Knopf, $27.95.) In this Nordic noir thriller, with resonant echoes of "The Silence of the Lambs," two Swedish cops can only crack their case by befriending an imprisoned serial killer. TO CHANGE THE CHURCH: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism, by Ross Douthat. (Simon & Schuster, $26.) This book, together with two of Douthat's previous books, is one part of a loose triptych about institutions in decline. Here, Douthat, a convert to Catholicism as well as a columnist for The New York Times, focuses on what he sees as a crisis of the church, brought on by the accommodationist policies of Pope Francis. CLOUDBURSTS: Collected and New Stories, by Thomas McGuane. (Knopf, $34.95.) People living on the fringes - loners and schemers - populate these brilliant and compulsively readable short stories. You may find yourself tearing through the book like a flash flood washing out a dirt road. THE GHOST NOTEBOOKS, by Ben Dolnick. (Pantheon, $25.95.) Dolnick doesn't employ screaming demons or blood-dripping walls in this well-crafted thriller about newlyweds who have moved into a decidedly creepy farmhouse. His brand of haunting is much more subtle - and much scarier. HIGH-RISERS: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing, by Ben Austen. (Harper/HarperCollins, $27.99.) This history of a notorious low-income development in Chicago shows how public housing became a symbol for policy gone awry. BE PREPARED, by Vera Brosgol. (First Second, $16.99; ages 8 to 12.) In this winning graphic novel based on the author-illustrator's childhood, 8-year-old Vera, a Russian immigrant, longs to go to sleepaway camp like her American friends. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books

  School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Brosgol has worked on acclaimed animated films, but she was once a lonely nine-year-old aching for friendship. Here, she relates the story of her monthlong experience at Russian summer camp, where she coped with the horrors of outhouses, feral wildlife, and bug bites, as well as with mean older cabinmates and alienation from her fellow campers. The author/illustrator reprises her cartoony character art and her detailed yet subtle background work. The book eschews the plot-driven and suspenseful storytelling of Brosgol's Anya's Ghost in lieu of a slice-of-life narrative in which problems aren't always neatly resolved. This lends a hard realism to the memoir, in spite of the adorable art style, as young Vera earns small victories and an understanding of herself rather than soaring triumph. The text is simple and accessible, but the relaxed pacing, characters who go often unpunished for cruel behavior, and the brief inclusion of an ill-fated romance set this title apart from more gentle middle grade works. VERDICT A gorgeous, emotional memoir worthy of any graphic novel collection.-Matisse Mozer, Los Angeles Public Library © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Summary
<p>"Beautifully drawn, brutally funny, brilliantly honest. Vera is such a good cartoonist I almost can't stand it." --Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile </p> <p>In Be Prepared , all Vera wants to do is fit in--but that's not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera's single mother can't afford that sort of luxury, but there's one summer camp in her price range--Russian summer camp.</p> <p>Vera is sure she's found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the "cool girl" drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!</p>
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