Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do you know "Where She Went"?

A couple of years ago I read a book that stuck with me. It was one of those teen novels that an adult can pick up and devour, one which I’ve seen more adults love than teens. I loved this book, spoke about it often, wrote about it, and even spoke about it at the 2009 Warwick’s Reading Group Recommends Night. Here’s a brief snippet of what I had to say:
“Mia is a promising cellist living a fulfilling life with her parents, young brother, and boyfriend, when in the blink of an eye her entire world is taken away. As she sees her past and the promise of an uncertain and painful future Mia must make a heart wrenching choice: let go of her tenuous hold on life, or stay, live without all that she holds dear. If I Stay by Gayle Forman is the most compelling book I’ve read this year, and surprisingly enough it is a teen novel. This is an amazing debut novel that pulls you in and does not let go.”
It’s true, this book stayed with me, and two years on I still remember the visceral effect this book had on my emotions. It is one of the few books I had to sit and contemplate upon finishing, rather than hop directly onto the next book. I even downloaded the music mentioned in it - and have become a fan of many of the songs - because I wanted those unique feelings to last.

Where She Went, the sequel to this amazing debut came out on the first Tuesday in April. Taking place three years after the horrific accident that destroyed Mia’s family, this book is told from the point of view of Adam, Mia’s former boyfriend, the person who made Mia stay in this world, when it would have been so easy to let go. Adam, now a famous musician, is barely holding it together mentally, emotionally, and socially when a chance encounter with Mia, a rising star in the classical world, sets off a night of remembrance that will finally give him the answer to where she went and why she stayed.

I don’t know how she does it, but Gayle Forman manages to tap into your emotions in a way few authors can. You feel not only for the characters, but also with them. If I Stay was such an emotional roller coaster, dealing with the pain of loss and question of living with that pain or leaving it all behind, and Where She Went is equally brilliant emotionally, but here it is the anger of being left (physically and metaphysically) behind that rolls over the reader like a tidal wave. Her use of music and lyrics are inspired - truly tapping into the importance of music within the lives of Mia and Adam, but also how much we, the readers rely on music and its cathartic powers in our everyday lives. It’s as though she has this brilliant score running beneath the text, not so noticeable that it detracts, but just enough to add to our understanding of the plot and character development. She moves us with music without us ever hearing a single chord. I don’t know how she does it, but I want more.

If every book could this good, more people would be reading. I don’t know how to put it more succinctly than that. There are “must reads” and there are “read this nows”. Read this set of books now, you will crave more.

- Heather

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rep Pick Night 2011

On the evening of Monday, February 28th, Warwick's hosted seven representatives from some of the best publishing houses around for a Rep Pick Night, where the reps selected some of their favorite recent and forthcoming titles to tell our customers about. We had a packed house, chips & salsa were eaten, wine was drunk, and free books were given away - not to mention that everyone in attendance received an extra discount on every book purchased. Here's a sampling of the evening's picks with a video included:

Wade Lucas, Random House:
Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
The Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemens
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel

Sandy Pollack, Random House
I Was a Dancer by Jacques d' Amboise
House of Prayer No.2 by Mark Richard
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Andrea Tetrick, PGW/Perseus Book Group:
Eden Hunter by Skip Horack
Granta 113
The Still Point by Amy Sackville
Towards the Setting Sun: John Ross, the Cherokees and the Trail of Tears by Brian Hicks
The Veganist by Kathy Freston

Tom Benton & Amy Comito, Penguin/Putnam:
You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
When the Killing's Done by T.C. Boyle
The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Mike Slack, Macmillan:
Tiger Tiger by Margaux Fragoso
Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
20 Under 40

Gabe Barillas, HarperCollins:
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
She Wolves by Helen Castor
Caribou Island by David Vann
Wench by Dolores Perkins
Clockwork Universe by Edward Dolnick