March brings spring, and whoo boy, I could use some spring right now. Heavy rains (causing a tree to fall on a friend’s car—while she was in it) were rough, turning me into more of a hermit than usual. Good thing I have loads of books.
Here are the March releases we recommend. And no, I don’t know why they all come out today (except for the last one).
From Jen at Brown Dog Solutions:
Gizelle’s Bucket List: My Life with a Very Large Dog by Lauren Fern Watt (Simon & Schuster, March 7)
What started out as an impulse purchase ended up being a wonderful relationship.
Lauren Watt bought her canine best friend, Gizelle—an English mastiff—on a whim while out with her mother one weekend. Lauren was just about to start college and her mother decided she needed a dog.
By the time Lauren graduates college and moves to New York City, Gizelle is a whopping 160 pounds. But Lauren explains Gizelle had a gift for fitting into places she shouldn’t fit, and she fit perfectly into Lauren’s life in NYC.
As any pet owner knows, our best friends never live as long as we’d like them to, but when Lauren learns Gizelle has cancer—and after she deals with her initial grief—she decides she’d make a bucket list for Gizelle.
Gizelle’s Bucket List is heartwarming and heartbreaking, funny and sad. It reminds us that since we don’t have a lot of days with our pets, we should make the ones we do have count. Dog lovers will identify with many of Lauren and Gizelle’s experiences, regardless of how large or small their own furbabies are. Their tale will have every pet lover scribbling bucket lists for their four-legged best friends.
From Rory at Fourth Street Review:
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler (Ecco, March 7)
Beginning at a Wisconsin summer camp in 1962 and spanning six decades, Nickolas Butler’s newest novel is his best yet (and I deeply loved Shotgun Lovesongs).
Nelson, bullied overachiever, is the camp’s bugler. Jonathan is a popular boy at camp. The two form an unlikely and uncertain friendship.
As the years pass, Nelson, a Vietnam veteran, becomes scoutmaster of beloved Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan becomes a successful businessman. They remain connected as both Jonathan’s son and grandson find their way to the camp.
This is not a happy book, and at times it is deeply unsettling, but it is timely. It shows what the most ordinary of boys and men are capable of.
As it examines both Nelson and Jonathan at turning points in their lives, we learn about the ways they are shaped from their childhood, the men they become, and how complicated even the simplest person can be. It’s a novel full of heart, beautiful prose, and memorable characters. It will undoubtedly be one of my favorite books this year.
From Lauren at Malcolm Avenue Review:
Celine by Peter Heller (Knopf, March 7)
When a terrific mystery is the least fabulous part of a novel, you know you’ve hit the jackpot as a reader. Peter Heller has created a simply sublime protagonist in Celine, a 69-year-old former government worker born with a silver spoon who now works as a PI helping to reunite families.
As comfortable in Jackie O sunglasses as her Glock shoulder rig, Celine is a recovering alcoholic who suffers from emphysema and creates sculptures using animal skulls. When a young woman seeks Celine’s help to find out what really happened to her long-thought-dead father, Celine and her husband Pete hit the road to find the truth.
While painted with wicked-smart humor, Celine is about loyalty, despair, art, obligation, and privilege, carried out superbly in Heller’s hands.
I’m recommending two this month.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (Abrams ComicArts, March 7)
Bui was a toddler when she and her family came to the US as refugees from Vietnam. The ghosts of war came with them, and it took Bui many years to finally find the right way to tell her and her parents’ stories. She drops some truth bombs up in here.
This illustrated memoir is moving and funny, telling painful, complex tales without overwhelming readers. Sometimes Bui’s artwork says it all, no accompanying narration or dialogue needed. In this understated quietness, the Buis’ stories come across loud and clear.
Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith (Forge, March 21)
Mia receives call saying her twin brother has gone missing in their N. Dakota hometown. And oh yeah, he’s suspected of knocking up one of his high school students and then murdering her. Mia goes home, encounters life-threatening situations as she searches for Lucas and tries to clear his name. Someone—perhaps more than one—in town is determined to keep her from exposing old secrets.
Smith’s characters are demented and dysfunctional but riveting. I especially liked how Mia and other female characters get to be messily three-dimensional. They have all kinds of issues but they feel like people you’d know.
What are you looking forward to reading this month?