A Wild Promise

Allen Crawford

In 1973, the United States Congress came together with bipartisan support to create and pass a bold and visionary act—one of protection, preservation, and promise. For the past fifty years, this promise, the Endangered Species Act, has ensured that the most threatened and vulnerable species and their habitats are protected. From the stellar sea lion to the ivory-billed woodpecker, from the steelhead trout to the red wolf—this landmark act has worked to preserve the wild beauty that surrounds and sustains us.

In A Wild Promise, acclaimed artist Allen Crawford beautifully illustrates over 80 animals that embody the spirit, legacy, and commitment of the Endangered Species Act. In his trademark inventive style, Crawford’s full-color illustrations and illuminated text create a vibrant tapestry of our nation’s habitats—oceans, mountains, deserts, wetlands, prairies, forests—and the varied species that call these places home. With a powerful and moving introduction by award-winning writer and conservationist, Terry Tempest Williams, A Wild Promise brings critical urgency and inspiration, lending voice and spirit to all Endangered Species. A one-of-a-kind work that’s visually delightful and inspiring throughout, A Wild Promise is a celebration of conservation, commitment, and compassion—a clarion call to continue to embrace, engage, and act in ways that preserve and protect our living world.

LET’S GO LET’S GO LET’S GO

Cleo Qian

The electric, unsettling, and often surreal stories in LET’S GO LET’S GO LET’S GO explore the alienated, technology-mediated lives of restless Asian and Asian American women today. A woman escapes into dating simulations to forget her best friend’s abandonment; a teenager begins to see menacing omens on others’ bodies after her double eyelid surgery; reunited schoolmates are drawn into the Japanese mountains to participate in an uncanny social experiment; a supernatural karaoke machine becomes a K-pop star’s channel for redemption. In every story, characters refuse dutiful, docile stereotypes. They are ready to explode, to question conventions. Their compulsions tangle with unrequited longing and queer desire in their search for something ineffable across cities, countries, and virtual worlds.

With precision and provocation, Cleo Qian’s immersive debut jolts us into the reality of lives fragmented by screens, relentless consumer culture, and the flattening pressures of modern society—and asks how we might hold on to tenderness against the impulses within us.

The Museum of Human History

Rebekah Bergman

After nearly drowning, eight-year-old Maeve Wilhelm falls into a strange comatose state. As years pass, it becomes clear that Maeve is not physically aging. A wide cast of characters finds themselves pulled toward Maeve, each believing that her mysterious “sleep” holds the answers to their life’s most pressing questions: Kevin Marks, a museum owner obsessed with preservation; Monique Gray, a refugee and performance artist; Lionel Wilhelm, an entomologist who dreamed of being an astrophysicist; and Evangeline Wilhelm, Maeve’s identical twin. As Maeve remains asleep, the characters grapple with a mysterious new technology and medical advances that promise to ease anxiety and end pain, but instead cause devastating side effects.

Weaving together speculative elements and classic fables, and exploring urgent issues from the opioid epidemic to the hazards of biotech to the obsession with self-improvement and remaining forever young, Rebekah Bergman’s The Museum of Human History is a brilliant and fascinating novel about how time shapes us, asking what—if anything—we would be without it.

I Do Everything I’m Told

Megan Fernandes

Bristling with restlessness and wit, Megan Fernandes’ I Do Everything I’m Told explores disobedience and worship, false beloveds, possessiveness, and long nights of solitude. Its poems span thousands of miles, as a masterful crown of sonnets starts in Shanghai, then flies through Brooklyn, Lisbon, Palermo, Sacramento, Paris, Philadelphia, and finally, somewhere only language can reach, where the speaker waits for a revelation.

Across five divs, poems navigate through the terrain of loss: the loss of relationships, the loss of a promised future. But amid devastation, they push us to consider joy as a necessity—in the smallest interactions, Fernandes observes that which moves us forward. “I do not track the world by beauty but joy,” a speaker says. “That first bite into the soft carrot of tagine stew while a / storm wailed over the East River. The misfit raccoon / bouncing on trash bins in Central Park.” Formally and sonically adventurous, I Do Everything I’m Told is the book for a generation who seeks to cross the distances between one another and rediscover an intimacy nearly taken by despair.

Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City

Jane Wong

In the late 1980s on the Jersey shore, Jane Wong watches her mother shake ants from an MSG bin behind the family’s Chinese restaurant. She is a hungry daughter frying crab rangoon for lunch, a child sneaking naps on bags of rice, a playful sister scheming to trap her brother in the freezer before he traps her first. She is part of a family staking their claim to the American dream, even as this dream crumbles. Beneath Atlantic City’s promise lies her father’s gambling addiction, an addiction that causes him to disappear for days and ultimately leads to the loss of the restaurant.

In her debut memoir, Wong tells a new story about Atlantic City, one that resists a single identity, a single story, as she writes about making do with what you have—and what you don’t. What does it mean, she asks, to be both tender and angry? What is strength without vulnerability—and humor? Filled with beauty found in unexpected places, Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City is a resounding love song of the Asian American working class, a portrait of how we become who we are, and a story of lyric wisdom to hold and to share.

Glaciers

Alexis M. Smith

“Her story could be told in other people’s things. The postcards and the photographs. A garnet ring and a needlepoint of the homestead. The aprons hanging from her kitchen door. Her soft, faded, dog-eared copy of Little House in the Big Woods. A closet full of dresses sewn before she was born. All these things tell a story, but is it hers?”

Isabel is a single twenty-something in Portland, Oregon, who repairs damaged books in the basement of the local library, dreaming of a life she can’t quite reach. She is filled with longing—for a life in Amsterdam even though she’s never visited, for the unrequited love of a coworker, for a simpler time from her childhood in Alaska among the threatened glaciers she loves, and for the perfect vintage dress to wear to a party that just might change everything.

Unfolding over the course of a single day, Alexis M. Smith’s shimmering debut finds Isabel looking into her past—remembering her parents’ separation, a meeting with an astrologer, and a life-changing encounter with a glacier—and shows us how fleeting, everyday moments can reveal an entire life. In classic movies, in old photographs and unsent postcards, rare books, and thrifted gems, Glaciers tells the story of a young woman’s love of the past and a hope to make something new and all her own.

Trace Evidence

Charif Shanahan

 

In Trace Evidence, the urgent follow-up to his award-winning debut Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing, Charif Shanahan continues his piercing meditations on the intricacies of mixed-race identity, queer desire, time, mortality, and the legacies of anti-Blackness in the US and abroad. At the collection’s center sits “On the Overnight from Agadir,” a poem that chronicles the poet’s survival of a devastating bus accident in Morocco, his mother’s birth country, and ruminates on home, belonging, and the mysteries of fate. With rich lyricism, power, and tenderness, Trace Evidence centers the racial periphery and excavates the vestiges of our violent colonial past in the most intimate aspects of our lives. In a language yoked equally by the physical and metaphysical worlds, the poet articulates the need we all share for true intimacy and connection, and proves, time and again, that the true cost of our separateness is the love that our survival requires.

 

The Language of Trees

Katie Holten

 

Inspired by forests, trees, leaves, roots, and seeds, The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Literature and Landscape invites readers to discover an unexpected and imaginative language to better read and write the natural world around us and reclaim our relationship with it. In this gorgeously illustrated and deeply thoughtful collection, Katie Holten gifts readers her tree alphabet and uses it to masterfully translate and illuminate beloved writing in praise of the natural world. With an introduction from Ross Gay, and featuring writings from over fifty contributors, including Ursula K. Le Guin, Ada Limón, Robert Macfarlane, Zadie Smith, Radiohead, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, James Gleick, Elizabeth Kolbert, Plato, and Robin Wall Kimmerer, Holten illustrates each selection with an abiding love and reverence for the magic of trees. She guides readers on a journey from “primeval atoms” and cave paintings to the death of a 3,500 year-old cypress tree, from Tree Clocks in Mongolia and forest fragments in the Amazon to the language of fossil poetry, unearthing a new way to see the natural beauty all around us and an urgent reminder of what could happen if we allow it to slip away.

The Language of Trees considers our relationship with literature and landscape, resulting in an astonishing fusion of storytelling and art and a deeply beautiful celebration of trees through the ages.

 

Thirst for Salt

Madelaine Lucas

 

It’s hard to remember now that I was once that girl, lying in the sand in my red swimsuit and swimming late into the day. Sharkbait, he called me.

It’s in the water where she first sees him: a local man almost twenty years her senior. Adrift in the summer after finishing college, a young woman is on holiday with her mother in an isolated Australian coastal town. Finding herself pulled to Jude, the man in the water, she begins losing herself in the simple, seductive rhythms of his everyday life.

As their relationship deepens, life at Sailors Beach offers her the stability she has been craving as the daughter of two drifters—a loving but impulsive mother and an itinerant father. But when she witnesses something she doesn’t fully understand, she finds herself questioning everything—about Jude, about herself, about the life she has and the one she wants.

A magnetic and unforgettable story of desire and its complexities, and a powerful reckoning with memory, loss and longing, Madelaine Lucas’s debut novel, Thirst for Salt, reveals with stunning, sensual immediacy the way the past can hold us in its thrall, shaping who we are and what we love.

 

Judas Goat

Gabrielle Bates

 

Gabrielle Bates’s electric debut collection Judas Goat plumbs the depths of intimate relationships. The book’s eponymous animal is used to lead sheep to slaughter while its own life is spared, and its harrowing existence echoes through this spellbinding collection of forty poems, which wrestle with betrayal and forced obedience, violence and young womanhood, and the “forbidden felt language” of sexual and sacred love. These poems conjure encounters with figures from scriptures, domesticated animals eyeing the wild, and mothering as a shapeshifting, spectral force; they question what it means to love another person and how to exorcise childhood fears. All the while, the Deep South haunts, and no matter how far away the speaker moves, the South always draws her back home.

In confession, in illumination, Bates establishes herself as an unflinching witness to the risks that desire necessitates, as Judas Goat holds readers close and whispers its unforgettable lines.

 

The House in the Orchard

Elizabeth Brooks

 

When a World War II widow inherits a dilapidated English estate, she uncovers a diary written by an adolescent girl named Maude Gower. Looking for answers, she begins reading, only to unravel more questions about the mysterious past and many secrets hidden deep within the walls of Orchard House.

In 1876, orphaned Maude is forced to leave London, and her adored brother, Frank, to live with a stranger. Everyone—especially Frank—tells her not to trust Miss Greenaway, the enigmatic owner of Orchard House, but Maude can’t help warming to her new guardian. Encouraged by Miss Greenaway, Maude finds herself discovering who she is for the first time, and learning to love her new home. But when Frank comes for an unexpected visit, the delicate balance of Maude’s life is thrown into disarray. Complicating matters more, Maude witnesses an adult world full of interactions she cannot quite understand. Her efforts to regain control result in a violent tragedy, the repercussions of which will haunt Orchard House for the rest of Maude’s life—and beyond.

With each psychologically gripping turn, Elizabeth Brooks masterfully explores the blurred lines between truth and manipulation, asking us who we can trust, how to tell guilt from forgiveness, and whether we can ever really separate true love from destruction.

 

A Pros and Cons List for Strong Feelings

Will Betke-Brunswick

 

During Will Betke-Brunswick’s sophomore year of college, their beloved mother, Elizabeth, is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. They only have ten more months together, which Will documents in evocative two-color illustrations. But as we follow Will and their mom through chemo and hospital visits, their time together is buoyed by laughter, jigsaw puzzles, modern art, and vegan BLTs. In a delightful twist, Will portrays their family as penguins, and their friends are cast as a menagerie of birds. In between therapy and bedside chats, they navigate uniquely human challenges, as Will prepares for math exams, comes out as genderqueer, and negotiates familial tension.

A Pros and Cons List for Strong Feelings is an act of loving others and loving oneself, offering a story of coming-of-age, illness, death, and life that announces the arrival of a talented storyteller in Will Betke-Brunswick. At its heart, Will’s story is a celebration of a mother-child relationship filled with unconditional devotion, humor, care, and openness.

 

What We Fed to the Manticore

Talia Lakshmi Kolluri

 

Through nine emotionally vivid stories, all narrated from animal perspectives, Talia Lakshmi Kolluri’s debut collection explores themes of environmentalism, conservation, identity, belonging, loss, and family with resounding heart and deep tenderness. In Kolluri’s pages, a faithful hound mourns the loss of the endangered rhino he swore to protect. Vultures seek meaning as they attend to the antelope that perished in Central Asia. A beloved donkey’s loyalty to a zookeeper in Gaza is put to the ultimate test. And a wounded pigeon in Delhi finds an unlikely friend.

In striking, immersive detail against the backdrop of an ever-changing international landscape, What We Fed to the Manticore speaks to the fears and joys of the creatures we share our world with, and ultimately places the reader under the rich canopy of the tree of life.

 

The Year of the Horses

Courtney Maum

 

At the age of thirty-seven, Courtney Maum finds herself in an indoor arena in Connecticut, moments away from stepping back into the saddle. For her, this is not just a riding lesson, but a last-ditch attempt to pull herself back from the brink even though riding is a relic from the past she walked away from. She hasn’t been on or near a horse in over thirty years.

Although Maum does know what depression looks like, she finds herself refusing to admit, at this point in her life, that it could look like her: a woman with a privileged past, a mortgage, a husband, a healthy child, and a published novel. That she feels sadness is undeniable, but she feels no right to claim it. And when both therapy and medication fail, Courtney returns to her childhood passion of horseback riding as a way to recover the joy and fearlessness she once had access to as a young girl. As she finds her way, once again, through the world of contemporary horseback riding—Courtney becomes reacquainted with herself not only as a rider but as a mother, wife,  daughter,  writer, and woman. Alternating timelines and braided with historical portraits of women and horses alongside history’s attempts to tame both parties, The Year of the Horses is an inspiring love letter to the power of animals—and humans—to heal the mind and the heart.

 

Little Foxes Took Up Matches

Katya Kazbek

 

When Mitya was two years old, he swallowed his grandmother’s sewing needle. For his family, it marks the beginning of the end, the promise of certain death. For Mitya, it is a small, metal treasure that guides him from within. As he grows, his life mirrors the uncertain future of his country, which is attempting to rebuild itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union, torn between its past and the promise of modern freedom. Mitya finds himself facing a different sort of ambiguity: is he a boy, as everyone keeps telling him, or is he not quite a boy, as he often feels?

After suffering horrific abuse from his cousin Vovka who has returned broken from war, Mitya embarks on a journey across underground Moscow to find something better, a place to belong. His experiences are interlaced with a retelling of a foundational Russian fairytale, Koschei the Deathless, offering an element of fantasy to the brutal realities of Mitya’s everyday life.

Told with deep empathy, humor, and a bit of surreality, Little Foxes Took Up Matches is a revelation about the life of one community in a country of turmoil and upheaval, glimpsed through the eyes of a precocious and empathetic child, whose heart and mind understand that there are often more than two choices. An arresting coming of age, an exploration of gender, a modern folktale, a comedy about family, Katya Kazbek breaks out as a new voice to watch.

 

Where You Come From

Sasa Stanisic

In August, 1992, a boy and his mother flee the war in Yugoslavia and arrive in Germany. Six months later, the boy’s father joins them, bringing a brown suitcase, insomnia, and a scar on his thigh. Saša Stanišic’s Where You Come From is a novel about this family, whose world is uprooted and remade by war: their history, their life before the conflict, and the years that followed their escape as they created a new life in a new country.

Blending autofiction, fable, and choose-your-own-adventure, Where You Come From is set in a village where only thirteen people remain, in lost and made-up memories, in coincidences, in choices, and in a dragons’ den. Translated by Damion Searls, it’s a novel about homelands, both remembered and imagined, lost and found. A book that playfully twists form and genre with wit and heart to explore questions that lie inside all of us: about language and shame, about arrival and making it just in time, about luck and death, about what role our origins and memories play in our lives.