Book recs

4 Fresh February Finds: Book Releases to Keep You Warm this Month

By Micaela Cashman

We Can Only Save Ourselves by Alison Wisdom released from Harper Collins February 2, 2021.

I hate February. It’s freezing, the snow has turned that mucky brownish-gray color, and Valentine’s Day feels like a personal attack for perpetually single women like me. But you can make this February a little brighter with these new releases!

And, if you’re dying to get out of the house and find more new reads, we’re having a Bookish Bouquet pop-up event in the ol’ book garage (trademark pending) February 13-14! Finally something poor single me can do on Valentine’s Day!

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

One of the biggest perks of writing this blog is getting to read books I would have never pulled off the shelf. Storyhouse Bookpub (hey, that’s the name of this site!) gives me a stack of books, and I read each one without looking at the synopsis on the back cover. So I was surprised as this book’s plot about a female scientist who came up with a way to clone humans unfurled. That idea in itself is interesting. But then her husband secretly clones her. Whoa. Things just got weird.

The Echo Wife combines sci-fi themes with all the drama of a soap opera. In fact, I think this storyline has pretty much happened on General Hospital? Great, now I’m outing myself as a soap opera viewer. But trust me when I say Sarah Gailey’s treatment of it is much more plausible and scandalous.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

I hereby predict The Four Winds will be the Where the Crawdads Sing or The Giver of Stars of 2021. I haven’t read Kristin Hannah before, but I understand her mass appeal. Her latest novel is set during the Dust Bowl era, a time in our country’s history that is super fascinating—especially with the current climate crisis at hand. Hannah weaves the true horrors of that day and age (harrowing dust storms, extreme poverty, and widespread prejudice) into a sweet little story about a single mother doing her best to fend for her kids. Did you know the Dust Bowl helped fuel the Communist movement? I didn’t until I read this book.

Hannah and her publishers are smart to release The Four Winds now. You’ll be able to identify with the characters’ struggles based on the political and economic turmoil we’ve experienced these last few years.

Consent by Vanessa Springora

Written in the Hemingway style of not mincing a single word, Consent is a gripping true account of a young girl’s affair with a much older man—that basically everyone knew about. It was France, it was several decades ago, but I still couldn’t fathom how Vanessa’s own mother allowed her teenage daughter to carry on a relationship with a renowned French writer, who was in his 50s and had a long history of courting young girls and boys. Vanessa tries to unlock the reasons she willingly entered into this relationship as well as the dark truths behind why the adults in her life did not try to save her.

Consent is already a sensation in France, a nation currently undergoing its own #MeToo movement. I read the English translation in a few hours—the prose was so intense and consuming that I had to know what happened to Vanessa.

We Can Only Save Ourselves by Alison Wisdom

Instead of going to the homecoming dance—where Alice Lange will find out whether she has been elected homecoming queen—she leaves her doting single mother and her adoring friends and neighbors behind. Instead of completing her senior year, she meets a mysterious older man who invites her to live in his home, where four other girls/women also reside. Thus begins Alice’s whirlwind journey down the rabbit hole of subversive ideas and cult behavior.

Author Alison Wisdom wrote from the “we” perspective—the group of suburban mothers Alice has left behind toss up the same questions I have and wonder where they went wrong in collectively raising their golden girl, creating a juicy Desperate Housewives vibe. Reminiscent of The Girls by Emma Cline and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, We Can Only Save Ourselves is a book to be devoured and puzzled over.

Micaela Cashman is a Des Moines writer, classic rock music enthusiast, and power-reading friend of Storyhouse Bookpub.

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