Foreword Reviews

Book of the Day Roundup: April 4-8, 2022

The Tale of the Tiny Man

Book Cover
Barbro Lindgren
Eva Eriksson, illustrator
Gecko Press
Hardcover $18.99 (36pp)
978-1-77657-409-4
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Now with new illustrations, this Swedish classic follows a wistful man whose solitude is broken by an eager pup. But before his canine rescue, he endures the hostility of those who don’t understand his quaint, kind ways. Light, pencil-lined images edged in watercolor follow along as the man sends wishes for companionship into the world—and is answered by his new friend’s rough tongue, wet nose, and tumbling habits. Audiences will also be “pleased as punch” over the man’s turn in fortunes.

MICHELLE ANNE SCHINGLER (April 3, 2022)

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme

Book Cover
Lars Mytting
The Overlook Press
Hardcover $28.00 (416pp)
978-1-4197-6227-7
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Lars Mytting’s The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is an intricate and evocative literary mystery about an orphaned Norwegian man whose family history is caught in between two world wars and the German Jewish sides of WWII.

Growing up on a remote farm in Saksum with his grandfather, Edvard’s childhood is overshadowed by the mystery surrounding his parents’ death on a trip to Anthuile when he was three, of which he has scant memories. He was believed to have been abducted by his grand uncle, Einar, a virtuoso cabinet maker who was estranged from his grandfather. When Edvard’s grandfather dies, a coffin made by Einar arrives, launching Edvard on a mission to retrace the tragic events transpiring during those traumatic few days around the Somme.

The trail leads Edvard up to the Shetlands, to the island where Einar led a hermit’s life, then to gun stores, and finally to France. Edvard searches for an inheritance at the heart of the family’s brokenness. In the Shetlands, he meets inimitable Gwendolyn, the granddaughter of a timber merchant who set in motion events with such monumental consequences for Edvard’s maternal family that her fate is entangled with his.

Manifold details and plot convolutions are momentary burdens, but Mytting’s deft maneuvering reveals truth after explosive truth. It’s an atmospheric, suspenseful telling, covering the nature of the inheritance and Einar’s true relationship to Edvard. Edvard’s oscillating feelings for Hanne, an old flame, and Gwendolyn, whose subterfuge makes her friend and foe both, add emotional heft to Edvard’s feelings of emptiness. There’s beautiful cadence to the dialogue, and to the evocative descriptions of the windy, rugged beauty of the Shetlands and the desecration wrought by war on bodies and the forests of Somme.

ELAINE CHIEW (February 27, 2022)

The Modern Table

Kosher Recipes for Everyday Gatherings

Book Cover
Kim Kushner
Adeena Sussman, contributor
Figure 1 Publishing
Hardcover $35.00 (224pp)
978-1-77327-166-8
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Written with hosting in mind and laden with intoxicating dishes, Kim Kushner’s The Modern Table is a lovely and inspiring cookbook.

Kushner’s repertoire is one of scrumptious, fresh, seasonal, and beautiful dishes that also happen to be kosher. Indeed, her cookbook suggests that dietary regulations are not restrictive, but rather a knowledgeable starting place: so much is possible beyond them. Luscious photographs capture mouth-watering spreads, including dishes that often involve just a few thoughtfully paired ingredients, as with a gorgeous sliced citrus platter that’s sprinkled with pistachio dust.

A spirit of hospitality reigns in Kushner’s work: notes on entertaining, from table settings onward, appear throughout. Images of tablescapes show what’s possible with a little imagination: there are bundles of flowers present at some settings, and the spirit of a gathering can be modified based on one’s selection of glassware and plates, signaling formality or a casual welcome.

But even for those who don’t make it to the issuing invitations or parting-gifts stage, there’s plenty here to initiate nights and days of delectable cooking. Plan ahead, and a stop at a local market is likely to proffer the ingredients necessary for exciting dishes like marinated chicken with artichokes and fennel, or for Kushner’s herb salad with lime, almonds, and currants. There are kid-pleasing dishes, too, like charred broccoli and garlic, and cauliflower steaks seasoned with za’atar; for the adults, and with a little advanced preparation, there’s pomegranate and sage flavored vodka. Sides like nuts soaked in honey can stun a palate with their simultaneous simplicity and deliciousness. Kushner’s instructions remain approachable throughout.

A cookbook that’s “all about togetherness,” The Modern Table includes fresh takes on party planning and simple ingredients; its mouthwatering plates should not be missed.

MICHELLE ANNE SCHINGLER (February 27, 2022)

Auē

Book Cover
Becky Manawatu
Scribe
Softcover $17.00 (336pp)
978-1-950354-95-5
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

In Becky Manawatu’s novel Auē, a Māori family comes to grips with its troubled past.

After his parents drown and he survives, Taukiri only has his little brother, Ari. But Taukiri is traumatized by the event, and he leaves Ari with relatives. He tries to lose himself in music and drugs. Both boys cope with their losses alone—as well as with the painful family secrets that the losses brought to the surface.

Ari, distressed by his brother’s betrayal and terrorized by an abusive uncle, is welcomed by a neighbor whose connection to his family runs far deeper than the boy understands. His youthful innocence, which is exemplified by his use of plasters to soothe physical and emotional aches, is heartbreaking, especially as his faith that his brother will come back for him begins to waver.

While Ari remembers his old life as perfect, his family history is a haunting patchwork of addiction and abuse, lies and half-truths, and wishes and dreams that never seem to work out. As the story follows Ari, Taukiri, and others, these secrets lurch out of hiding, revealing the full scale of the tragedy. Even as Ari finally makes progress in his own recovery, Taukiri’s life takes a frightening turn, causing him to reassess his own capabilities as a brother.

The prose is as changeable as the ocean: fluid most of the time, choppy and fragmented during intense moments. Each narrator contributes a unique perspective, their voices weaving together to form a coherent, devastating tale. A frightening climax forces all of the characters to reckon with the consequences of their actions—and gives them the chance at redemption that they long for.

Auē is a novel about how trauma can spread from one generation to the next, and how it is never too late for second chances.

EILEEN GONZALEZ (April 4, 2022)

Impact with Integrity

Repair the World without Breaking Yourself

Book Cover
Becky Margiotta
Girl Friday Books
Hardcover $24.95 (240pp)
978-1-954854-27-7
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Taking a fresh approach to leadership that involves social change, Becky Margiotta’s Impact with Integrity invites activists to tackle challenges through rigorous inner work.

In the course of this book, Margiotta shares valuable tips for embracing personal power, clarifying one’s commitments, countering ingrained assumptions, and shifting contexts, as with moving from entitlement to appreciation. The book is direct when it comes to work like identifying one’s goals, taking personal responsibility, and assuming accountability. It is also decisive about its terminology, as of unleashing power and facing uncomfortable truths related to racism, sexism, and toxic organizational dynamics.

Emphasis on asking good questions carries throughout, as does unflinching scrutiny and honesty in response to such questions: discernment to assess the dependability of one’s allies, live in alignment with one’s values, and become a formidable force for change. This work is supported by anecdotes from Margiotta’s time in the military and their work to reduce homelessness. The searing outcome of a story involving a commander who was informed of a middle-of-the-night crisis reverberates.

The book’s points are driven home by support including provocative footnotes, charts, worksheets, and takeaways, all of which crystallize its steps toward active engagement in effecting change. There are also steps for repairing world issues and Henricks Institute questions to identify one’s persona. Though the book is sometimes too casual—using pop cultural phrases that prove distracting in relation to its more substantive work; proving fast to dismiss the possibility of achieving social change in an independent manner—it ably sells the notion that there’s power in solidarity.

Organizations and people should be diligent when it comes to self-examination, as is shown in Impact with Integrity, a leadership text about fostering social change.

ANDREA HAMMER (April 4, 2022)

Barbara Hodge

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