7 Most-Favorable Reviews in June 2020

  • July 3, 2020

We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony last month.

7 Most-Favorable Reviews in June 2020

Un-American: A Soldier’s Reckoning of Our Longest War by Erik Edstrom (Bloomsbury Publishing). Reviewed by Larry Matthews. “Erik Edstrom’s Un-American: A Soldier’s Reckoning of Our Longest War left me with a sadness bordering on despair, an empty feeling that burrowed into the darkest areas of my soul. It’s more than one man’s voyage into an endless war. This book is almost a journey that we all, all Americans, have been on since 9/11. In the end, we are left to ponder the question: What have we become?”

Glorious Boy: A Novel by Aimee Liu (Red Hen Press). Reviewed by Norah Vawter. “This novel tugged at my heart in all the right ways. I got teary explaining to my husband why I’d cried the night before, when I’d stayed up until two in the morning finishing the book. As her characters’ journey becomes increasingly fraught, Liu walks the emotional tightrope perfectly, never swaying into sentimentality but also never shying away from heartbreak.”

Tree Story: The History of the World Written in Rings by Valerie Trouet (Johns Hopkins University Press). Reviewed by Jennifer Bort Yacovissi. “Yet Valerie Trouet’s Tree Story: The History of the World Written in Rings is everything I had hoped it would be: intelligent, accessible, witty, and captivating — a global adventure spanning millennia and embracing a bevy of unexpected topics, all resulting from the study of tree rings. The book brims with globetrotting detective stories involving pirate ships, volcanic eruptions, the jet stream, and a Stradivarius known as the Messiah.”

A Quiet Cadence: A Novel by Mark Treanor (Naval Institute Press). Reviewed by Tom Glenn. “In an honored place on a wall in my house is a photograph of jungle combat boots from Vietnam. The picture is captioned, ‘Do what you have to do, whatever it takes.’ The empty boots imply that their owner gave up his life in defense of his country. A Quiet Cadence is the literary equivalent of that picture. It is the most powerful book on combat during the Vietnam War that I have read.”

Old Lovegood Girls: A Novel by Gail Godwin (Bloomsbury Publishing). Reviewed by Anne C. Heller. “Godwin is a splendid storyteller whose tales are richly layered. Old Lovegood Girls, her 18th novel, opens in 1958 at the high-minded Lovegood College for women, a leafy two-year Southern institution whose ancient motto is ‘To be rather than to seem.’ The novel follows the lifelong, if intermittent, friendship of two very different women, roommates for an intense few months during their freshman year.”

Love: A Novel by Roddy Doyle (Viking). Reviewed by Robert Allen Papinchak. “What’s not to like about a Roddy Doyle novel? And when it’s titled Love, it’s even more irresistible. But love doesn’t just hurt. Love, actually, is also a salacious infatuation — at least according to fiftyish Irish pub crawlers and old drinking mates Davy and Joe. They meet up for what might be their last call to thrash over old times, to asseverate over the present, and to make presumptions about the future, both blustery blokes justifying the ways of man, to man.”

The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move by Sonia Shah (Bloomsbury Publishing). Reviewed by Gretchen Lida. “While it has a few blind spots, The Next Great Migration convincingly argues that the constant movement of plants, animals, and people from one place to another is natural and signals health. Chapter by chapter, the author debunks the centuries-old ethos that most living things come from one stagnant habitat, and that moving to a new place is a rare and often extreme change brought about by dire circumstances.”

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