Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea, recommended by Trish

It is the beginning of World War II, and the Red Cross has a new program for women to serve.  Irene and Dorothy both have their own reasons for joining but the unlikely pair make a great team, serving coffee, donuts, and good cheer to the troops.  It is not all sugar and cream, however, as they face the same nightmares and action the troops do.  Both Irene and Dorothy have become close, like sisters, but Irene is concerned about Dorothy.  Dorothy secretly joins a group called the Grey Ghosts on secret missions, which become more complex. The story is laced with intrigue, romance, and peril but is a truly moving story of love and endurance.

All the Sinners Bleed by S. A. Cosby, recommended by Dennis

Titus Crown is the first Black sheriff in the history of Charon County, Virginia. He is an ex-FBI man haunted by his own past. A year after he is elected sheriff, a beloved schoolteacher is killed in his classroom and the murderer is shot by one of Titus’s deputies. Racial tensions ignite because the murderer is black, and the deputy is white.  As Titus investigates the shootings, he uncovers terrible crimes and a serial killer who is hiding in plain sight.  I was immediately drawn into this story and even though I had an idea who the killer was, I didn’t know his identity. This is a story you can’t put down.

When the World Didn’t End: A Memoir by Guinevere Turner, recommended by Megan S.

Many people who write memoirs rely on faded memories and family lore to recount their childhoods, but Guinevere Turner has something more: multiple diaries kept throughout her life that reveal she grew up as part of a cult. She was raised in the Lyman Family, led – and isolated – by Mel Lyman. The result of those diaries and her adult perspective is a heart-wrenching portrayal of twisted dynamics, mental and physical abuse, and the corruption of power. Turner’s writing is clear and level-headed, and I found this memoir very moving.

The Celebrants by Steven Rowley, recommended by Karen

After the unexpected death of a close friend, five college friends make a pact to throw each other “living funerals” whenever one of them needs extra support and love during a personal hardship.  Throughout the years, the friends honored the pact (whether they wanted to or not), but the final call would be the most challenging for them all.  A mix of The Big Chill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, the story is filled with laughter and tears, has engaging characters, and is a good reminder to remember to tell those who we love and care about how we feel about them while we can. 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, recommended by Leah & Megan C.

Staff members Leah and Megan C. read this book together as a “buddy read.” Check out both of their reviews below:

Leah: I loved this book. The writing was wonderful, the story was engaging, and constantly left me on edge waiting to get back to it. I thought that the characters in this book were excellent. They were real, they made mistakes, they were not always the people you wanted them to be, but in the end they worked. I’m not even sure how to put into words how I felt. It left me feeling emotional, and happy, but also wanting more (in a good way). I would 10/10 recommend this book to anyone!

Megan C: Probably my favorite read of 2023 so far! Complex and captivating, you won’t want this book to end! From the author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry comes a modern tale of friendship, ambition, and fame, coupled with tragedy and failure. Two childhood friends voyage into the world of video game design, only to discover their need for creativity, collaboration, and above all connection.

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson, recommended by Tracie

Sasha learns the hard way that the rich really are different after she marries Cord and they are offered the family home on Pineapple Street – a home she cannot redecorate or even move furniture in. Sasha tries to fit in with sisters-in-law but finds herself committing faux pas, to the embarrassment of Tilda, her new mother-in-law.  The bedrooms all must stay the same, causing friction with sister-in-law Georgiana, who works for a non-profit because her trust pays for everything else. Sasha refused the prenup and is dubbed a gold-digger by the sisters. The plot thickens because older sister Darley “marries out” and had refused the prenuptial agreement that would have covered costs when husband Malcolm loses his job. How will Darley continue their luxurious lifestyle?  And when will Darley tell her parents and the rest of the family that they may be homeless and broke – if she tells them at all?