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Let’s take a look the celebrity book club picks for April 2022!
I thought March was a great month for the celebrity book club selections. So far, I’ve read Reese’s Pick The Club by Ellery Loyd; Marie Claire’s selection The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley and Barnes and Nobles’ pick One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle.
But let’s chat April! Since the first of the month is on a Friday, the celebrity book clubs each waited for a book selection that is coming out on Tuesday, April 5. I was surprised by several of the selections but I’m also quite intrigued as well.
Let’s get to it!
Reese’s Book Club
True Biz by Sara Nović
Reese’s Book Club has selected True Biz by Sara Nović. This story follows a teacher and her students at a boarding school for the deaf. Here’s the synopsis:
True biz? The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history finals, and have politicians, doctors, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they’ll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who’s never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school’s golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the hearing headmistress, a CODA (child of deaf adult(s)) who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another—and changed forever.
This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, disability and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.
Initial thoughts: I’m looking forward to this one! I anticipate learning more about the Deaf community from it and I’m glad that Reese is promoting this kind of story. Also, last year, it was announced by Deadline that A Quiet Place actress Millicent Simmonds will star in the television adaptation of the novel.
Read with Jenna
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
Read with Jenna has picked Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow, a novel that follows three generations of a Southern Black family and one daughter’s discovery that she has the power to change her family’s legacy. Here’s the synopsis:
Summer 1995: Ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father’s explosive temper and seek refuge at her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis. This is not the first time violence has altered the course of the family’s trajectory. Half a century earlier, Joan’s grandfather built this majestic house in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass—only to be lynched days after becoming the first Black detective in the city. Joan tries to settle into her new life, but family secrets cast a longer shadow than any of them expected.
As she grows up, Joan finds relief in her artwork, painting portraits of the community in Memphis. One of her subjects is their enigmatic neighbor Miss Dawn, who claims to know something about curses, and whose stories about the past help Joan see how her passion, imagination, and relentless hope are, in fact, the continuation of a long matrilineal tradition. Joan begins to understand that her mother, her mother’s mother, and the mothers before them persevered, made impossible choices, and put their dreams on hold so that her life would not have to be defined by loss and anger—that the sole instrument she needs for healing is her paintbrush.
Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of unforgettable voices that move back and forth in time, Memphis paints an indelible portrait of inheritance, celebrating the full complexity of what we pass down, in a family and as a country: brutality and justice, faith and forgiveness, sacrifice and love.
Initial thoughts: I received an ARC of Memphis and I’m really enjoying it so far—I’m almost halfway as I write this post. The writing is exquisite and vivid—I’m so curious of where the story will go. I will say there are some extremely tough scenes to read at the beginning so just a heads up about that. But I’m telling you, this book is very well done and I think it will be a big hit.
GMA Book Club
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Good Morning America’s Book Club has picked Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. This is a story about a scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the star of a beloved TV cooking show. Here’s the synopsis:
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.
Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.
Initial thoughts: That is probably one of the most unique synopsis I’ve read in quite some time! I like the setting in 1960s California and I’m already curious how a scientist ends up on a cooking show.
Audacious Book Club (Roxane Gay)
Ancestor Trouble by Maud Newton
Ancestor Trouble by Maud Newton is a nonfiction story that follows the writer’s attempt to use genealogy to expose the secrets and contradictions of her own ancestors. Here’s the synopsis:
Maud Newton’s ancestors have vexed and fascinated her since she was a girl. Her mother’s father, who came of age in Texas during the Great Depression, was said to have married thirteen times and been shot by one of his wives. Her mother’s grandfather killed a man with a hay hook and died in an institution. Mental illness and religious fanaticism percolated through Maud’s maternal lines back to an ancestor accused of being a witch in Puritan-era Massachusetts. Maud’s father, an aerospace engineer turned lawyer, was an educated man who extolled the virtues of slavery and obsessed over the “purity” of his family bloodline, which he traced back to the Revolutionary War. He tried in vain to control Maud’s mother, a whirlwind of charisma and passion given to feverish projects: thirty rescue cats, and a church in the family’s living room where she performed exorcisms.
Her parents’ divorce, when it came, was a relief. Still, her position at the intersection of her family bloodlines inspired in Newton inspired an anxiety that she could not shake, a fear that she would replicate their damage. She saw similar anxieties in the lives of friends, in the works of writers and artists she admired. As obsessive in her own way as her parents, Newton researched her genealogy—her grandfather’s marriages, the accused witch, her ancestors’ roles in slavery and genocide—and sought family secrets through her DNA. But immersed in census archives and cousin matches, she yearned for deeper truths. Her journey took her into the realms of genetics, epigenetics, and the debates over intergenerational trauma. She mulled over modernity’s dismissal of ancestors along with psychoanalytic and spiritual traditions that center them.
Initial thoughts: I don’t tend to read much nonfiction but I’m quite intrigued with this synopsis. And this sounds like an ideal book for book club discussion. I’m fascinated to learn what she found out about her family.
Read with Marie Claire
The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn is the story about the quiet bookworm who becomes history’s deadliest female sniper during WWII. Kate Quinn is one of the best historical fiction writers out there today. Here’s the synopsis:
In 1937 in the snowbound city of Kiev (now known as Kyiv), wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son—but Hitler’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper—a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.
Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC—until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila’s past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.
Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever.
Initial thoughts: I’m all in with this novel! First, be sure to check out my Q&A with the author Kate Quinn here. I love her novels and I just can’t wait to read this one. If you haven’t read any of her novels yet, now is a great time to start!
Barnes & Noble
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel is a novel that is receiving so much buzz. This is a story of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon five hundred years later. Here’s the synopsis:
Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.
A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.
Initial thoughts: I have not read any of her novels yet and I know I need to! I’m thinking I will start with this one though—it sounds so compelling.
Which book will you read first?