Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, the staff from The Bookies Bookstore in Denver recommends a novel about aspiring astronauts, another Peter Heller gem, a short story collection and a reimagining of slavery.
Farther Than the Moon
By Lindsay Lackey
Roaring Brook Press
From the publisher: All thirteen-year-old Houston Stewart has ever wanted is to become an astronaut. His dreams feel like they’re finally coming true when he’s accepted to the highly-competitive Junior Astronaut Recruitment Program – if only he could bring his little brother, Robbie, with him.
Ever since their dad left, Houston and Robbie have been inseparable. It’s hard to tell where Houston’s love of space ends and where Robbie’s begins. But Robbie’s cerebral palsy and epilepsy mean he needs medical attention at home, so Houston is forced to take this giant leap for the two of them all on his own.
From Marilyn Robbins, Children’s Program Coordinator: Lackey, who grew up in Colorado, has just delivered her second book, set in Colorado and Houston. “Farther Than the Moon” is Lackey’s masterpiece. If you only read one book this year, this is the one to read! I promise … it’s that good!
The Last Ranger
By Peter Heller
From the publisher: Officer Ren Hopper is an enforcement ranger with the National Park Service, tasked with duties both mundane and thrilling: Breaking up fights at campgrounds, saving clueless tourists from moose attacks, and attempting to broker an uneasy peace between the wealthy vacationers who tromp through the park with cameras, and the residents of hardscrabble Cooke City who want to carve out a meaningful living.
When Ren, hiking through the backcountry on his day off, encounters a tall man with a dog and a gun chasing a small black bear up a hill, his hackles are raised. But what begins as an investigation into the background of a local poacher soon opens into something far murkier: A shattered windshield, a series of red ribbons tied to traps, the discovery of a frightening conspiracy, and a story of heroism gone awry.
From Juli Guyer, Bookseller: Once again Heller has written a wilderness mystery set in Yellowstone National Park that draws you into the story with his lyrical prose and descriptions of nature and wildlife, along with well-developed characters. Park Ranger Ren, whose job it is to patrol and protect the park and its inhabitants, gets drawn into the middle of a rift turned ugly and dangerous between a wolf biologist and poacher. It begs the question, can “bad guys” have a good reason for doing what they do? An added bonus was the focus on wolf packs in the story.
By Emily Zhou
From the publisher: In seven light-filled prisms of short stories, Emily Zhou chronicles modern queer life with uncompromising and hilarious lucidity. Attending to the intimacy of Gen Z women’s lives, these stories move from the provinces to the metropolis, from chaotic student accommodation to insecure jobs, from parties to dates to the nights after, from haplessness to some kind of power.
From Moira Eleanor Brownwolfe, Consignment: In the last few years we’ve been blessed with several stellar entries into the trans woman lit canon, and “Girlfriends” is looking to be the best of the year. A tight short story collection that never overstays its welcome and leaves you asking what’s next on the horizon for Zhou, this one comes heartily recommended. For those who need to see themselves in literature, and for those who are willing to listen to our stories.
Let Us Descend
By Jesmyn Ward
From the publisher: “Let Us Descend” is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.
From Bess Maher, Event Liaison: Jesmyn Ward, one of America’s best and most acclaimed authors, has written a modern classic. While she examined the contemporary American South in her previous works, she breaks new ground in “Let Us Descend.” Annis, an enslaved woman, is surrounded by family and friends as well as those who would do anything in their power to keep slavery in place and guided by spirits whose intentions aren’t totally clear. It is an incredibly original book.