Books

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Patrick Shields's debut novel is autobiographical fiction set at a boarding school in early 1990s Philadelphia. (Image courtesy of the author.)

‘Pinball’ by Patrick Shields

Graduation games

In Patrick Shields’s debut autobiographical novel, ‘Pinball,’ set in the early 1990s, we follow a senior at a North Philadelphia boarding academy as he reckons with his past, present, and future two weeks before graduation. Kirsten Bowen reviews.
Kirsten Bowen

Kirsten Bowen

Reviews 3 minute read
A deeply poignant read in its own right, as well as a reminder of what we’re missing because of COVID. (Image courtesy of Bazillion Points.)

‘I’m Not Holding Your Coat’ by Nancy Barile

A valentine to the pre-internet punk scene

Since the pandemic has left us longing for live music, Nancy Barile’s new punk-scene memoir, ‘I’m Not Holding Your Coat,’ is an especially welcome window on a bygone musical era. Chelsea Spear reviews.
Chelsea Spear

Chelsea Spear

Reviews 5 minute read
Te-Ping Chen's debut story collection is both intimate and epic in its depiction of contemporary China. (Image courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.)

‘Land of Big Numbers’ by Te-Ping Chen

Paths of purpose

Te-Ping Chen’s debut story collection, ‘Land of Big Numbers,’ casts a wide net to explore contemporary China and its diaspora. Kirsten Bowen reviews.
Kirsten Bowen

Kirsten Bowen

Reviews 3 minute read
Did Stan Lee look down on the medium that made him famous? (Image courtesy of Crown.)

‘True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee’ by Abraham Riesman

Knocking down Marvel myths

Journalist Abraham Riesman has authored a definitive biography of the famed Marvel creator Stan Lee, uncovering truths that may make Lee's fans uncomfortable. Stephen Silver reviews.
Stephen Silver

Stephen Silver

Reviews 3 minute read
What happens when a president would rather be liked than actually govern? (Image courtesy of the author.)

‘Utopia PR’ by Adam Bender

Work/life balance, and other disasters

In Adam Bender’s near-future political satire, a crisis communications manager troubleshoots disasters for a callow reality-television star turned president while trying to maintain a semblance of work/life balance. Kirsten Bowen reviews.
Kirsten Bowen

Kirsten Bowen

Reviews 3 minute read
This nest is an apt emblem for Saunier’s poetry. (Image courtesy of Terrapin Books.)

‘A Cartography of Home’ by Hayden Saunier

When we were still a place

A new poetry collection from Hayden Saunier weaves Pennsylvania’s natural world with its mini-marts and hotels, exploring possibility, loss, compound perspectives, and calls to customer service. Anndee Hochman reviews.
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Reviews 5 minute read
A chronicle of the best public defender office in the country. (Image courtesy of Temple University Press.)

‘The Defender,’ by Edward W. Madeira Jr. and Michael D. Schaffer

If you cannot afford an attorney…

‘The Defender: The Battle to Protect the Rights of the Accused in Philadelphia’ traces the history of Philly’s famous public defender office, and the challenges it still faces. Pamela Forsythe reviews.

Pamela J. Forsythe

Reviews 5 minute read
Frank discussions on race took on new meaning for these authors. (Image courtesy of Temple University Press.)

‘Do Right By Me,’ by Valerie I. Harrison and Kathryn Peach D’Angelo

Adoption in black and white

Two local educators use their friendship and their expertise to explore the sensitive topic of transracial adoption in ‘Do Right By Me: Learning to Raise Black Children in White Spaces.’ Pamela Forsythe reviews.

Pamela J. Forsythe

Reviews 4 minute read
Does your job make you? (Image courtesy of Coffee House Press.)

‘Temporary’ by Hilary Leichter

Working identity

‘Temporary’ is the tale of a temporary worker trying to find permanence, a quest that will resonate with American workers, especially in the pandemic. Elisa Shoenberger reviews.
Elisa Shoenberger

Elisa Shoenberger

Reviews 3 minute read
Where does public health meet medical care? (Image courtesy of Temple University Press.)

‘The Health of the Commonwealth’ by James E. Higgins

Tales of epidemics past

‘The Health of the Commonwealth’ recounts 250 years of medical practice in Pennsylvania—a particularly relevant slice of history in the age of Covid-19. Pamela J. Forsythe reviews.

Pamela J. Forsythe

Reviews 5 minute read