Hello Molly! by Molly Shannon
At age four, Molly Shannon’s world was shattered when she lost her mother, baby sister, and cousin in a car accident with her father at the wheel. Held together by her tender and complicated relationship with her grieving father, Molly was raised in a permissive household where her gift for improvising and role-playing blossomed alongside the fearlessness that would lead her to become a celebrated actress.
From there, Molly ventured into the wider world of New York and Los Angeles show business, where she created her own opportunities and developed her daring and empathetic comedy. Filled with behind-the-scenes stories involving everyone from Whitney Houston to Adam Sandler to Monica Lewinsky, many told for the first time here, Hello, Molly! spans Molly’s time on Saturday Night Live—where she starred alongside Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Cheri Oteri, Tracy Morgan, and Jimmy Fallon, among many others. At the same time, it explores with humor and candor her struggle to come to terms with the legacy of her father, a man who both fostered her gifts and drive and was left with the impossible task of raising his kids alone after the loss of her mother.
Witty, winning, and told with tremendous energy and heart, Hello, Molly!, written with Sean Wilsey, sheds new and revelatory light on the life and work of one of our most talented and free-spirited performers.
Left on Tenth by Delia Ephron
Delia Ephron had struggled through several years of heartbreak. She’d lost her sister, Nora, and then her husband, Jerry, both to cancer. Several months after Jerry’s death, she decided to make one small change in her life—she shut down his landline, which crashed her internet. She ended up in Verizon hell.
She channeled her grief the best way she knew: by writing a New York Times op-ed. The piece caught the attention of Peter, a Bay Area psychiatrist, who emailed her to commiserate. Recently widowed himself, he reminded her that they had shared a few dates fifty-four years before, set up by Nora. Delia did not remember him, but after several weeks of exchanging emails and sixties folk songs, he flew east to see her. They were crazy, utterly, in love.
But this was not a rom-com: four months later she was diagnosed with AML, a fierce leukemia.
In Left on Tenth, Delia Ephron enchants as she seesaws us between tears and laughter, navigating the suicidal lows of enduring cutting-edge treatment and the giddy highs of a second chance at love. With Peter and her close girlfriends by her side, with startling clarity, warmth, and honesty about facing death, Ephron invites us to join her team of warriors and become believers ourselves.
Write for Your Life by Anna Quindlen
Write for Your Life is a guide for those who don’t, won’t, or think they can’t write, what Anna Quindlen calls “civilians.” Using examples past, present and future—from Anne Frank to Toni Morrison to members of her own family—Quindlen makes vivid all the ways in which writing connects us, to ourselves and to those we cherish. From love letters written after World War II to journal reflections from nurses and doctors today, and using her personal experiences not just as a writer but as a mother and daughter, Quindlen makes the case that recording our daily lives in an enduring form is more important than ever. All of our histories, of current events and personal challenges, can be understood and passed down through the written word; “to write the present,” Quindlen says, “is to believe in the future.” Write for Your Life is a clarion call to pick up the pen, and find yourself.
Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough
Emma can’t sleep. It’s been like this since her big 4-0 started getting closer. Her mother stopped sleeping just before her own fortieth birthday. She went mad and did the unthinkable because of it. Is that what’s happening to Emma?
Just the Two of Us by Jo Wilde
Julie and Michael Marshall have stayed together through thick and thin, through better and worse — and, for the last few years, it has mostly been worse. As their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary approaches, Julie realizes something: she doesn’t want to pretend anymore.
Divorce papers at the ready, she’s just about to have The Talk with Michael when everything changes. Lockdown begins and Julie and Michael face the greatest terror they can imagine: uninterrupted time with each other. But, when stripped of all distraction and forced to meet eyes across the dinner table, could it be that Julie and Michael might find a way back to where they first began?
A Woman of Endurance by Dahlma Llanos
Pola, a deeply spiritual African woman is captured and later sold for the purpose of breeding future slaves. The resulting babies are taken from her as soon as they are born. Pola loses the faith that has guided her and becomes embittered and defensive. The dehumanizing violence of her life almost destroys her. But this is not a novel of defeat but rather one of survival, regeneration, and reclamation of common humanity.
Paradise Falls by Keith O’Brien
Lois Gibbs, Luella Kenny, and other mothers loved their neighborhood on the east side of Niagara Falls. It had an elementary school, a playground, and rows of affordable homes. In the spring of 1977, pungent odors began to seep into these little houses, and it didn’t take long for worried mothers to identify the curious scent. It was the sickly-sweet smell of chemicals.
In this propulsive work of narrative reportage, Keith O’Brien uncovers how Lois Gibbs and Luella Kenny exposed the poisonous secrets buried in their neighborhood. The school and playground had been built atop an old canal—the Love Canal, it was called. The city’s largest employer, Hooker Chemical, had quietly filled this canal with 20,000 tons of toxic waste in the 1940s and 1950s. This waste was now leaching to the surface, causing a public health crisis the likes of which America had never seen before—and sparking new and specific fears. Luella Kenny believed the chemicals were making her son sick.
O’Brien braids together the previously unknown stories of Hooker Chemical’s deeds; the local newspaperman, scientist, and congressional staffer who tried to help; the city and state officials who didn’t; and the heroic women who stood up to corporate and governmental indifference to save their families and their children. They would take their fight all the way to the top, winning support from the E.P.A. and the White House, even President Jimmy Carter himself, and by the time it was over, they would capture the American imagination.
The Devil’s Half Acre by Kristen Green
New York Times bestselling author Kristen Green draws on years of research to tell the extraordinary and little-known story of young Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman who blazed a path of liberation for thousands. She was forced to have the children of a brutal slave trader and live on the premises of his slave jail, known as the “Devil’s Half Acre.” When she inherited the jail after the death of her slaveholder, she transformed it into “God’s Half Acre,” a school where Black men could fulfill their dreams. It still exists today as Virginia Union University, one of America’s first Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
A sweeping narrative of a life in the margins of the American slave trade, The Devil’s Half Acre brings Mary Lumpkin into the light. This is the story of the resilience of a woman on the path to freedom, her historic contributions, and her enduring legacy.
Sedating Elaine by Dawn Winter
Frances was not looking for a relationship when she met Elaine in a bar. She was, in fact, looking to drown her sorrows in a pint or twelve and nurse a broken heart, shattered by the gorgeous, electric Adrienne. But somehow (it involved a steady stream of beer and weed, as things often did with Frances) Elaine ended up in Frances’s bed and never left. Now, faced with mounting pressure from her drug dealer, Dom (and his goon, Betty), Frances comes up with a terrible idea: She asks Elaine to move in with her for real. Unfortunately, this seemingly romantic overture makes Elaine even more sex-crazed and maniacal with love. Frances fears she may never escape the relationship, so, given no choice, she makes the obvious decision: She will sedate Elaine.
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Montgomery, Alabama, 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies.
But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a worn-down one-room cabin, she’s shocked to learn that her new patients, Erica and India, are children – just 11 and 13 years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black, and for those handling the family’s welfare benefits, that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her role, she takes India, Erica, and their family into her heart. Until one day she arrives at the door to learn the unthinkable has happened, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.
Decades later, with her daughter grown and a long career in her wake, Dr. Civil Townsend is ready to retire, to find her peace, and to leave the past behind. But there are people and stories that refuse to be forgotten. That must not be forgotten.
The Caretakers by Amanda Bestor-Siegal
Paris, 2015. A crowd gathers outside the Chauvet home in the affluent suburban community of Maisons-Larue, watching as the family’s American au pair is led away in handcuffs after the sudden death of her young charge. The grieving mother believes the caretaker is to blame, and the neighborhood is thrown into chaos, unsure who is at fault—the enigmatic, young foreigner or the mother herself, who has never seemed an active participant in the lives of her children.
The truth lies with six women: Géraldine, a heartbroken French teacher struggling to support her vulnerable young students; Lou, an incompetent au pair who was recently fired by the family next door; Charlotte, a chilly socialite and reluctant mother; Nathalie, an isolated French teenager desperate for her mother’s attention; Holly, a socially anxious au pair yearning to belong in her adopted country; and finally, Alena, the one accused of the crime, who has gone to great lengths to avoid emotional connection, and now finds herself caught in the turbulent power dynamics of her host family’s household.
The Patron Saint of Second Chances by Christine Simon
Vacuum repairman and self-appointed mayor of Prometto, Italy (population 212) Signor Speranza has a problem: unless he can come up with 70,000 euros to fix the town’s pipes, the water commission will shut off the water to the village and all its residents will be forced to disperse. So in a bid to boost tourism—and revenue—he spreads a harmless rumor that movie star Dante Rinaldi will be filming his next project nearby.
Unfortunately, the plan works a little too well, and soon everyone in town wants to be a part of the fictional film—the village butcher will throw in some money if Speranza can find roles for his fifteen enormous sons, Speranza’s wistfully adrift daughter reveals an unexpected interest in stage makeup, and his hapless assistant Smilzo volunteers a screenplay that’s not so secretly based on his undying love for the film’s leading lady. To his surprise—and considerable consternation, Speranza realizes that the only way to keep up the ruse is to make the movie for real.
As the entire town becomes involved (even the village priest invests!) Signor Speranza starts to think he might be able to pull this off. But what happens when Dante Rinaldi doesn’t show up? Or worse, what if he does?
Theatre of Marvels by Lianne Dillsworth
As an orphan in the slums of St. Giles, Zillah was determined never to become part of the notorious Blackbird gang. With nothing to rely on but her own wit, she convinces infamous producer Marcus Stratton to hire her for his variety show in nineteenth-century London. But the act Stratton has in mind for Zillah is as The Great Amazonia, “a savage queen from darkest Africa.” His drunken audience laps this up, and as Zillah’s star rises, Stratton makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that her survival depends on her true identity staying secret. This careful planning is upended when Zillah finds herself caught between the attention of a mysterious Black gentleman and Stratton’s Viscount friend, who promises her the world. When another young Black woman in Stratton’s employ goes missing, Zillah realizes she’ll have to make a choice: follow her ambitions, or stay true to herself. Theatre of Marvels is a thrilling love story, a piercing commentary on a brutal racial history, and a delicious Victorian adventure.
Things They Lost by Okwiri Oduor
Ayosa is a wandering spirit—joyous, exuberant, filled to the brim with longing. Her only companions in her grandmother’s crumbling house are as lonely as Ayosa herself: the ghostly Fatumas, whose eyes are the size of bay windows, who teach her to dance and wail at the death news; the Jolly-Annas, cruel birds who cover their solitude with spiteful laughter; the milkman, who never greets Ayosa and whose milk tastes of mud; and Sindano, the kind owner of a café no one ever visits.
Unexpectedly, miraculously, one day Ayosa finds a friend. Yet she is always fixed on her beautiful mama, Nabumbo Promise: a mysterious and aloof photographer, she comes and goes as she pleases, with no apology or warning. Set at the intersection of the spirit world and the human one, Things They Lost is a stunning and unforgettable novel that unfurls the dizzying dualities of love, at its most intoxicating and all-encompassing.
God of Neverland by Gama Ray Martinez
Peter Pan is missing; Neverland is in trouble. For adults, that might not matter all that much, but for children—whose dreams and imagination draw strength from the wild god’s power—the magic we take for granted in the real world is in danger of being lost forever.
Such is the life of a now grown-up Michael Darling.
Michael returned from Neverland with the dream of continuing his adventuring ways by joining the Knights of the Round, an organization built to keep humanity safe from magical and mythological threats.. But after a mission gone terribly wrong, he vowed to leave the Knights behind and finally live as a “civilian,” finding order and simplicity as a train engineer, the tracks and schedule tables a far cry from the chaos of his youth.