Find it at your library!

Anytime I see a book claiming to be about a “family with a dark secret,” my mind immediately goes to one thing, and I bet yours does too. (It starts with “I” and rhymes with “blincest.”) And not only is The Roanoke Girls about just such a family, it’s set in Kansas, my home state! Finally, we shall be known as more than just the home of Dorothy and Toto!

Seriously, Everyone Who’s Not From Kansas (including that New Jersey-accented TSA agent, you know who you are), please kindly shut your trapholes about the flipping Wizard of Oz. No one here cares. I’m not saying I’m excited to be associated with rhymes-with-blincest, but I’m just about to the point where I’d take that over another crack about the stupid brick road. And your little dog, too!

Anyway, The Roanoke Girls is so addictive to read. It’s somehow super-trashy in subject matter and quite well-written at the same time, which is confusing because I couldn’t tell how much to judge myself for loving it. Is this like a V.C. Andrews novel I should hide under my proverbial mattress and never confess to having read, or is it a sensitive literary exploration of the damaging love of a seductive patriarch? Am I a perverted weirdo showing up for the shock value, or am I a gentlewoman and a scholar?

Eh, forget the analysis, both literary and psycho-. I don’t care what it says about me that I really, really liked The Roanoke Girls. I clucked my tongue and fluttered my fan at every twisted revelation.

With regards to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the advance copy. On sale March 7!

Find it at your library!

I read The Fire This Time with great urgency. The murders this week of two more innocent black men at the hands of cops, followed by the sniper attacks on Dallas police officers, are a kind of nightmarish call and response that demand reflection and action.

It's hard to know what to do when the problems in our country seem so huge and insurmountable. I want so badly not to be part of the problem. I want to quit agonizing over my privilege and do something that matters. But what can one person do to dismantle such an enormous, seemingly immortal machine of systemic racism and oppression?

Obviously, I don't have the answer, if there even is one. But one thing I keep coming back to is art. Most of my greatest insights on difficult subjects have come from music, poetry, essays. In the wake of each new tragedy, artists create. Their creations dredge beauty from destruction. Their generative force counters evil and death not by forging against it but by taking root in and growing out of it. How is that even possible? I don't know how, but I know that it is so.

So, I read. I listen. I try to understand. I try to imagine what life is for other people. Books like The Fire This Time help me do those things. It's especially effective because it's an anthology, a collection of many voices. I learned a lot from it, and it made me hungry to learn more.

If you only read one book this year, it should be this one.

With regards to Scribner and NetGalley for the advance copy. On sale August 2. Mark your calendar now. Put in your library request. Hit the pre-order button. Do whatever you have to do, just read this book.