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Terry's Traffic Light Delights

These are some of Terry's favorite books of the season:

There are so many great new books this spring! Check out my favorites here (older favorites are still listed below).

Recursion: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524759780
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - June 11th, 2019

In my opinion, it is impossible not to be immersed in a Blake Crouch genre-bending thriller. And, Recursion is no exception. Another nonstop page turner of suspense, science and interesting characters, Crouch takes we learned about quantum physics in Dark Matter to the next level this stunning follow-up.

In present day New York City, people are beginning to remember their past lives in in an usual way. Called False Memory Syndrome, this recollection is so disturbing that people are committing suicide as they are unable to reconcile multiple life memories. In alternating chapters, we meet scientist Helena whose life mission is to map memories in her attempt to save her mother from her battle with Alzheimer’s. Barry is a cop whose life has been destroyed by the death of his daughter 11 years ago. When he is given the opportunity to reverse the events leading to her death, his life is forever changed in ways he could never have foreseen. Crouch brings both narratives together in stunning and unexpected ways and just when you think you know where the plot is going ... you land somewhere completely different. It is impossible to put down Recursion until all the connections are made. - Terry

Time After Time: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812993431
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Published: Random House - June 11th, 2019

Grunwald’s latest book is a treat in every way. As in the past, she has selected a piece of history we know nothing about and emersed us in the time period. Her latest novel, is set during WWII novel and takes place primarily in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal from 1937 to 1947 when Joe Reynolds finds Nora Lansing on the floor of the terminal lobby following his shift working as a leverman, a job guiding trains into Grand Central Terminal. Joe and Nora come to understand that she is caught between two worlds after a tragic train accident, but this does not create enough of a barrier to these two who are immediately drawn to each other. Even as the war penetrates the life of the terminal and everyone around them their love story persists. Time takes on a different meaning for Joe and Nora and readers will not view war, train terminals, and time in the same way after reading this beautful novel.

Courting Mr. Lincoln: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616208479
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Published: Algonquin Books - April 23rd, 2019

I could not be more in love with this pitch-perfect, charming version of our history, the art of courtship, and these two extraordinary people. In 1840 Springfield, Illinois life is quite rustic but society and its expectations are any thing but. Into this mix, arrives Mary Todd a guest in her sister’s house with the expectation that she will make a match … and move out! She is wildly outspoken and certainly a woman ahead of her time. Abraham Lincoln arrives a bit earlier than Mary and is deeply embroiled in politics and law with very little expectation for what his life holds. He was raised without the benefit of learning the ins and outs of society but is helped through his deficit by his roommate and friend Joshua Speed. His learning process is as charming as his integrity and watching these two strong individuals through their courtship is a treat … unlike any other I have read

Miracle Creek: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374156022
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Published: Sarah Crichton Books - April 16th, 2019

This expansive and extraordinary debut is much more than a court drama about a fire that killed two people. In fact, the courtroom serves as the backdrop for uncovering the many lies and secrets held in this small community in Virginia while masterfully telling the story of the Yoo family and the lives they changed forever. Miracle Creek draws on the author’s immigrant experience and artfully uses that experience to draw an authentic picture of those struggles. It is hard to do justice to a book that is both compulsively readable and yet uses its elegant prose to draw you in to so many intertwining stories of family, children, and the intricacies of dealing with special needs children. Ultimately, it about how one person and one decision can impact so many lives in both positive and negative ways. This is an author to watch.

Angie Kim is our inaugural Creating Conversations Book Club author. Meet Angie on May 9, 2019 in our Redondo Beach store.

Confessions of an Innocent Man: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524743888
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Published: Dutton - April 9th, 2019

This is the best legal thriller I have read in a very long time. And the fact that it is based on the real-life experiences of David Dow, Founder and Director of the Texas Innocence Network, makes it even more compelling. Rafael Zhettah is a descendant of Mexican immigrants. He is an excellent chef and the proprietor of a restaurant in Houston. He meets the love of his life at his restaurant and despite the differences in their ages and backgrounds they are happily married … up until the day she is murdered in their home.

Rafael is wrongly accused of her murder and ends up on death row in Texas. His death row experience is at once harrowing and fascinating and you will not be able to tear yourself away from the details of Rafael’s life in prison. There will be no spoiler alerts in this review, I only want to say that readers will be surprised and then surprised again at the turns of Rafael’s story while in a parallel narrative he relives the details of his marriage, which is nothing less than a grand love story. The insight and commentary on our legal system add to this suspenseful tale without taking anything away from this story about an Innocent Man.

I predict that Dow will be the next Andrew Vachss, championing those without a voice and shedding light on our justice system which is mostly unknown by most of us.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328662057
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Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - April 2nd, 2019

I could not put down this compulsively readable memoir about a therapist and her clients, combined with her own journey to mental health with her own therapist. This sneak peek into what happens behind closed doors is fascinating, but the insight we gain as we read Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is even more valuable. We can’t help but learn something about ourselves, how we can change (for the better) and the roles we play in our relationships with others.

Meet Lori on Independent bookstore day on April 27 in our Redondo Beach store.

Lights All Night Long: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525558736
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - April 2nd, 2019

In this exceptional novel, readers are transported to a small mining town in Russia where there are few prospects and no escape from daily drudgery, weather, and broken political system. From this environment, 15-year-old Ilya is a standout for his intelligence and his drive to learn English. For these reasons he is chosen to be an exchange student in Leffie, Louisiana, a goal he has had since he was a small boy. His excitement for this new opportunity is colored by his concern and love for his troubled, older brother, Vladimir who has been jailed for a crime he did not commit. Their tumultuous relationship is the focus of this book though their love for each other cannot be denied. Told in alternate chapters from Ilya’s life in Berlozhniki prior to boarding the plane to the US and his experiences with his host family in the United States, this is a story of love and devotion on both sides of the world.

Meet Lydia at our lunch in her honor on May 8 at Tin Roof Bistro Manhattan Beach.

The Falconer: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501193224
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - January 29th, 2019

There is so much I love about this exceptional debut; the language, the characters, the setting, and the sense that you are learning anew from an age-old experience. It is a coming of age story that is poetic, honest, insightful and beautifully written from the viewpoint of 17-year-old Lucy (Loose) Adler who is an extraordinary basketball player, social outcast, and out-of-the-box thinker. She is also in love with her best friend and fellow basketball player Percy. They have been inseparable since they were 5 years old, sharing hoops, drugs, secrets, and experiences, even as Lucy hides this one very big secret from him. Against the backdrop of New York City and their extremely different backgrounds, these two friends are most comfortable when they are together.

What I loved about this book is that I found so many passages worth re-reading, while the familiarity of the day and the age brought me back to many of my experiences from a similar time. This an author to watch!

Meet Dana on April 12 at a lunch in her honor in Manhattan Beach.

Listen to the Marriage: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374192020
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 23rd, 2018

There is a reoccurring theme in many of the books I’ve been reading this summer:  We must let go of the past to move forward to the future. This is never truer than in this must-read novel about a recently separated couple who is seeking marriage counseling. This insider view into the thoughts of a marriage counselor lightly guiding a couple’s journey from alienation to communication is a page-turner. Like a suspense novel, you are waiting for both people to understand the obvious … always difficult in close relationships and which is, after all, the point of marriage counseling. This is must-reading for every couple.

Virgil Wander Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802128782
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Published: Grove Press - October 2nd, 2018

I could not be more in love with Enger's characters, midwestern town, and gorgeous writing. Virgil Wander is an integral part of Greenstone, Minnesota, a small town that you are easily and willingly drawn into as you learn about its inhabitants and history.

Years prior to the start of this novel, Virgil Wander moved to Greenstone and bought a movie theatre called The Empress and then dedicated himself to spending his inheritance investing in it. When that path threatened to eat away all his savings, he took a second job as City Clerk where he is in the center of all small-town politics. At the start of the novel, Virgil inadvertently drives his car off an embankment, and the whole town watches his recovery and helps him heal. His recovery takes an interesting turn when a Norwegian visitor, Rune Eliassen, wanders into town with his imaginative designs for kites. The flight of these beautiful kites impacts the entire town and even those who passes by.

There is comfort in these pages as you hang out with Virgil, Rune, and the other inhabitants of this fine town. This is a book with big heart in a small landscape with solid midwestern roots. I hope I don't have to wait 10 more years for the next novel by this gem of an author.

Ohio Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781501174476
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 21st, 2018

From the start of this beautifully-written fiction debut, you know you are reading a rare piece of art that is also an entirely new reading experience. Markley has written an amazing portrait of Middle America, capturing the heart and soul of parts of our country at the beginning of the 21st century. He does this through the lens of four high school friends that all converge in their home town of New Canaan, Ohio, in 2013, 12 years after the tragedy of 9/11, the event which shaped much of their adolescence and adulthood. He has also written a complicated, intricate novel about small towns, secrets, friendships, unspeakable tragedy, love, war, and more. Much of Ohio is hard to read. All of Ohio worthy of discussion. It is certainly the novel of a generation that continues to have impact on today’s future. 

Meet Stephen Markley at lunch on September 26.

Goodbye, Paris: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501196508
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Gallery Books - August 7th, 2018

This satisfying debut is about love, music, and finding the life you were meant to live … and of course, Paris. Grace is an accomplished cellist and a world-renown violin maker who lives in a small town in the UK. Her boyfriend David is a wealthy businessman who has an apartment in Paris where they frequently meet, though David is married and has two lives, only one of which includes Grace. Despite his current married state, Grace and David have planned their future together including a vacation to Italy where she has entered a music contest. When she is not with David, she carries on her life in her violin shop with a very small set of friends. This seemingly perfect plan and gentle way of life is shattered one day when David saves a woman from being run over by a train in a Paris subway. This begins a series of events that drive the narrative of Goodbye, Paris and Grace’s journey to her best possible life.

Dear Mrs. Bird: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501170065
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - July 3rd, 2018

Just when you think that you have read enough books about WWII, up pops this delightful romp in 1940s London during the Blitz, featuring aspiring war correspondent Emmeline (Emmy) Lake. This period brought challenges to everyone across Europe and the UK, but especially to women like Emmy who would like to have a career, but struggle with the norms and expectations of the time. When Emmy secures a job at The London Evening Chronicle, she is thrilled to be following her career path, only to find that she was hired as an assistant to an advice columnist for women; not exactly a stepping stone toward Lady War Correspondent, her lifelong goal. Her boss, Mrs. Bird, has a very conservative approach to the types of letters she will answer and eventually, Emmy cannot stop herself from answering some of these letters on her own. She feels that women need more support and answers than those provided by her boss, especially at a time that carries deep emotional strain and loss. This story is told with humor and a genuine feel for the time, including much tragedy and compassion for war-time London.

The Book of Essie: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525520313
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Published: Knopf - June 12th, 2018

Reality TV has taken hold of American TV watchers in a very big way, but what happens behind the scenes may be even more fascinating. This is the focus of this impossible-to-put-down debut told from three points of view, and highlighting an evangelical family who has made their fame and fortune through their long-running TV show called Six for Hicks.

Essie is the youngest daughter of this clan. When she discovers that she is pregnant, she sees this as a way out from her domineering family and the role she has had to play from birth. She chooses a (unsuspecting) husband for herself and Roarke is the second voice in this story. The third perspective comes from Libby, a reporter who has her own very public past. 

Whether you are a fan of reality TV or not, you will not be able to resist this tale of secrecy, subterfuge, lies, and more … up until the very last page!

The Kiss Quotient Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451490803
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - June 5th, 2018

Prepare to be charmed. And enlightened!

Without fail, every time I read a novel with an autistic character, I cannot help but relate to that character at least in some way. I think we are all on the spectrum somewhere and characters like Stella Lane remind us of this. We could all use this insight to do a better job communicating compassionately to everyone in our lives. I love this book for its simplicity, its characterization of autism, and of course, for a great love story. And I should mention, this is a very sexy novel. Put this on your summer reading list!

How to Walk Away: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250149060
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - May 15th, 2018

I could not “walk away” from Margaret Jacobsen’s journey from a promising conventional future to one that has seemingly unsurmountable barriers to happiness. Against her better judgement, Margaret gets in a plane with her inexperienced pilot-boyfriend, and what happens next changes her life forever. This intimate look at recovery, loss, healing, and strength will captivate you and keep you glued to the pages through family drama and coming to terms some truths about her life. Margaret ultimately will find the person she was meant to be … not the one she thought she should be. I was touched by all the characters and still miss them long after the last page. This may be the perfect summer read.

Gone to Dust: A Detective Nils Shapiro Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765391308
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Forge Books - May 2018

I admit it. I am a sucker for a smart, sexy, funny, damaged private detective in a small town setting. And that is what I have found in Goldman’s excellent, engrossing debut. Niles Shapiro made a reputation for himself by solving a case that eluded the police several years ago. This, in combination with his long-time friendship with Edina Police detective Anders Ellegaard, brings him into a case involving a local woman who has been murdered in her home under unusual circumstances in the quiet town of Edina, Minnesota. Niles has lived in Edina all his life, knows his way around the frozen terrain, and is in touch with most of the locals. In fact, some of the people from his past become major suspects as he investigates this crime through the freezing and icy Minnesota winter. Goldman is an Emmy Award-winning television writer whose credits include writing for Seinfeld and Ellen. All of this makes for an entertaining and lively read. I can hardly wait for the second book in this sure-to-be-a-hit series. – Terry

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501175121
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Published: Atria Books - March 6th, 2018

Isaac Severy knew his death was imminent, so before he took matters into his own hands, he wrote his adopted granddaughter, Hazel, a cryptic note about his work, the need to destroy it, and instructions to deliver his final equation to a person who is unknown to her. It is a complete puzzle to her (as she has never liked math), made urgent because Isaac insists that more deaths will result. Hazel has always felt like a misfit among the Severy family of geniuses, mathematicians, and physicists, especially since her bookstore in Seattle is currently failing and she is living in the backroom because she has nowhere else to go. As Hazel searches for clues that will lead her to fulfill her grandfather’s last wish, many secrets about her adopted relatives begin to unfold. This is a fun and literary mystery from a debut author to watch.

The Coincidence Makers: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250146113
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Published: St. Martin's Press - March 6th, 2018

It may or may not be a coincidence that you are reading this review (and possibly this book). Since every coincidence is orchestrated by the Coincidence Makers (CM), it is hard to determine if free will exists at all. Enter this world where the CM class of ‘75 consists of Emily, Eric, and Guy. “The General” leads them through the steps and the foundations that allow them to work on this parallel plane, and we will see how coincidences can be manufactured and manipulated by this highly skilled group. But to what purpose, and why? You will have to read this genre-bending, unique novel to find out.

How to Stop Time Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525522874
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Published: Viking - February 6th, 2018

Tom Hazard is 436 years old, though he looks like he is in his 40s. He was born in 1581 and, unlike the rest of us; he ages only one year every 15 years. Not only does his condition keep him young, it protects him from illness. This may sound like the ultimate immortal life, but for Tom it has been a lonely and sad existence since his wife died of The Plague in 1623.

In the late 1800s, Tom discovers that there are other people in the world with the same condition and he joins their “society” for his protection (and theirs). He finds himself living by rules that make his life, well, unlivable. But, what keeps Tom going is the hope that he will be reunited with his daughter Marion, who he believes, has inherited his condition.

The story of Tom’s life through the centuries and the famous people he meets (Shakespeare and F. Scott Fitzgerald!) is mixed seamlessly with the narrative of his current life as a history teacher (of course!) in London. Tom’s observations are a poignant commentary about the current issues of the day and the meaning of life. This is an engaging and fun read for everyone.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812989908
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Published: Dial Press Trade Paperback - January 30th, 2018

This literary thriller is a stunner … both for its unique format and plot and for the two unforgettable characters whose lives are both heartbreaking and violent. Samuel Hawley has a turbulent and disturbing past and is the sole parent to his daughter, Loo, following the death of his wife. The circumstances surrounding the twelve bullets lodged in Hawley’s body and the story of his life is one narrative. Alternating chapters follow Loo from the age of 11 to the present day. She is precocious, brilliant, and resilient, and has inherited some of her father’s violent tendencies. After moving erratically around the country throughout their lives together, they move back to Olympus, Massachusetts, the town where her mother was raised and where her grandmother still lives. Their integration into that town is a rocky path for both of them, but ultimately brings them together in unexpected ways.

The mystery of Hawley’s past (including the death of Loo’s mother) drives both narratives in this non-stop, beautifully paced, and elegantly written novel. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Need to Know: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781524797027
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Ballantine Books - January 23rd, 2018

It is not a (complete) spoiler to tell you that Vivian Miller’s husband is a Russian spy. You will know this within the first 30 pages. But for Vivian, this revelation is beyond uncomfortable, because it is her job at the CIA trying to uncover the Russian spy network of sleepers that have assimilated themselves into life in the U.S. And while comparisons to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” are inevitable, you are in entirely different territory here. Vivian and Matt have been married for 10 years and have four small children. The discovery of Matt’s background and duplicity puts Vivian and her children in jeopardy as she tries to find a way to save her family and her job. The turbulent storyline is interspersed with a recounting of her past memories of falling in love with Matt and starting their life together.This is a hard-to-put-down ingenious suspense thriller

Manhattan Beach: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476716732
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Published: Scribner - October 3rd, 2017

Set in New York City during the Second World War, this atmospheric novel centers around Anna Kerrigan and the mysterious rich man she meets when she is just nine years old. Ten years later, at 19, Anna meets that man, nightclub owner and gangster Dexter Styles, once again. By this time, she spends her days toiling away in a factory building parts for the armed forces. What do Anna and Dexter have in common? As it turns out, Anna’s father disappeared years earlier, not long after she accompanied him on a visit to the Styles home in Manhattan Beach. It is the mystery of her father’s disappearance that drives much of the narrative and plot.

Manhattan Beach is a beautiful mix of history, fascinating characters, and an examination of decisions made in extreme circumstances. The ultimate result is a book not easily forgotten and a time that is better understood with its reading.  – Terry

Something Like Happy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781525811357
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Published: Graydon House - September 5th, 2017

This may be the feel-good-book of the year, despite its dire premise and inevitable ending. Something Like Happy begins with an unlikely friendship between terminal cancer patient Polly Leonard and the barely functional Annie Hebden, who is suffering from multiple personal tragedies.

Polly has been diagnosed with a brain tumor but is determined to live her last 100 days celebrating life and everyone she comes into contact with. Annie has had a rough couple of years dealing with the loss of her son, the end of her marriage, and her mother’s early onset dementia. They meet at the hospital where Polly is extremely popular because of the joy she spreads, her glamorous fashion sense, and her positive attitude in almost total disregard of her pending demise. Annie needs a bit (okay, a lot) of convincing to work with Polly on her 100 Happy Days project, but when she does, her life begins to change. We can’t help but laugh at their antics, and the result is a book that you will find difficult to put down. No one will be untouched by this friendship and the life (and death) lessons they teach us, especially the reader.  – Terry

My Absolute Darling: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735211179
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Published: Riverhead Books - August 29th, 2017

My Absolute Darling is amazing … and scary and unsettling and disturbing … and possibly one of the most brilliant novels of the year.

 Fourteen-year-old Julie (AKA Turtle/AKA Kibble) Alveston is being raised by two chillingly dangerous men. She lives in a house that is in complete disrepair and her diet is beyond distressful. She is proficient with guns, deficient in school, and does not socialize with her peers. She does not trust her own judgement and lives in constant fear, despite the vast love she feels for both of these men. And this is the dilemma that will keep you turning the pages of this remarkable debut.

My Absolute Darling is, in fact, a terrifying book to read, but it is so brilliantly written that you cannot possibly skip the opportunity to learn about Turtle’s journey and her growth. This may also possibly be the perfect book group book with many themes to explore, including how we take care of our world and the people in it … and how we don’t.  And, Gabriel Tallent’s love for our world shines through every page.

To read My Absolute Darling is life-changing. Tallent has poured his heart, soul, and intellect into this unforgettable novel for our time.

As an added bonus, meeting Gabriel is utterly transformational.  His background is as fascinating as his unexpected/unparalleled fiction debut. You must meet him (and you can … on September 12 at a very special Ladies, Lunch, and Literacy event!) – Terry

Magpie Murders: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062645227
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Published: Harper - June 6th, 2017

I could not be more charmed by this mystery within a mystery by a master in this genre, Horowitz. From the start, you know you are in for a treat and a mystery far beyond the latest installment from fictional English sensation, Alan Conway. When Editor Susan Ryeland sits down to edit Alan’s new Atticus Pünd mystery, we are right there with her, reading along. And by the end of manuscript for this delightful/playful/somewhat satirical romp through the English countryside, we are intrigued. It will be no surprise to any mystery reader that the manuscript is incomplete, the author is dead, and our illustrious editor turns into an amateur sleuth, but the enchantment continues as we learn more about all of the characters (suspects) known by Alan Conway. Magpic Murders is fun, creative, and simply a great read.  – Terry

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735220683
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Published: Pamela Dorman Books - May 9th, 2017

At first glance, you might think you are in for a hilarious romp with a socially inept character who is lovable by the end of the book like somewhat similar titles, The Rosie Project or A Man Called Ove. And in some ways, this comparison would be correct. But Eleanor is a more serious character with dark past and substantial work to do before she can feel comfortable with the human race. But laugh we do, because Eleanor is extraordinarily smart and funny. More importantly, we admire her courage and fortitude as she faces both the present and the past and her own coping mechanisms. More than laughter and redemption, at the end of this fine debut, we want to give her a hug. – Terry