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Everywhere You Don't Belong

Gabriel Bump

New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2020

“A comically dark coming-of-age story about growing up on the South Side of Chicago, but it’s also social commentary at its finest, woven seamlessly into the work . . . Bump’s meditation on belonging and not belonging, where or with whom, how love is a way home no matter where you are, is handled so beautifully that you don’t know he’s hypnotized you until he’s done.” —Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review


In this alternately witty and heartbreaking debut novel, Gabriel Bump gives us an unforgettable protagonist, Claude McKay Love. Claude isn’t dangerous or brilliant—he’s an average kid coping with abandonment, violence, riots, failed love, and societal pressures as he steers his way past the signposts of youth: childhood friendships, basketball tryouts, first love, first heartbreak, picking a college, moving away from home. 
 
Claude just wants a place where he can fit. As a young black man born on the South Side of Chicago, he is raised by his civil rights–era grandmother, who tries to shape him into a principled actor for change; yet when riots consume his neighborhood, he hesitates to take sides, unwilling to let race define his life. He decides to escape Chicago for another place, to go to college, to find a new identity, to leave the pressure cooker of his hometown behind. But as he discovers, he cannot; there is no safe haven for a young black man in this time and place called America. 
 
Percolating with fierceness and originality, attuned to the ironies inherent in our twenty-first-century landscape, Everywhere You Don’t Belong marks the arrival of a brilliant young talent.
 

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I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Erika L. Sanchez

National Book Award Finalist!
Instant New York Times Bestseller!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian meets Jane the Virgin in this poignant but often laugh-out-loud funny contemporary YA about losing a sister and finding yourself amid the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican American home.


Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents' house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga's role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it's not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend, Lorena, and her first love (first everything), Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister's story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

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The Hundred-Year House

Rebecca Makkai

The acclaimed author of The Borrower returns with a dazzlingly original, mordantly witty novel about the secrets of an old-money family and their turn-of-the-century estate, Laurelfield.

“Rebecca Makkai is a writer to watch, as sneakily ambitious as she is unpretentious."
Richard Russo
 
Meet the Devohrs: Zee, a Marxist literary scholar who detests her parents’ wealth but nevertheless finds herself living in their carriage house; Gracie, her mother, who claims she can tell your lot in life by looking at your teeth; and Bruce, her step-father, stockpiling supplies for the Y2K apocalypse and perpetually late for his tee time. Then there’s Violet Devohr, Zee’s great-grandmother, who they say took her own life somewhere in the vast house, and whose massive oil portrait still hangs in the dining room.

Violet’s portrait was known to terrify the artists who resided at the house from the 1920s to the 1950s, when it served as the Laurelfield Arts Colony—and this is exactly the period Zee’s husband, Doug, is interested in. An out-of-work academic whose only hope of a future position is securing a book deal, Doug is stalled on his biography of the poet Edwin Parfitt, once in residence at the colony. All he needs to get the book back on track—besides some motivation and self-esteem—is access to the colony records, rotting away in the attic for decades. But when Doug begins to poke around where he shouldn’t, he finds Gracie guards the files with a strange ferocity, raising questions about what she might be hiding. The secrets of the hundred-year house would turn everything Doug and Zee think they know about her family on its head—that is, if they were to ever uncover them.

In this brilliantly conceived, ambitious, and deeply rewarding novel, Rebecca Makkai unfolds a generational saga in reverse, leading the reader back in time on a literary scavenger hunt as we seek to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate and the incredible surprises life can offer.

For readers of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle

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The Lake on Fire

Rosellen Brown

The Lake on Fire is an epic narrative that begins among 19th century Jewish immigrants on a failing Wisconsin farm. Dazzled by lore of the American dream, Chaya and her strange, brilliant, young brother Asher stowaway to Chicago; what they discover there, however, is a Gilded Age as empty a façade as the beautiful Columbian Exposition luring thousands to Lake Michigan’s shore. The pair scrapes together a meager living—Chaya in a cigar factory; Asher, roaming the city and stealing books and jewelry to share with the poor, until they find different paths of escape. An examination of family, love, and revolution, this profound tale resonates eerily with today’s current events and tumultuous social landscape. The Lake on Fire is robust, gleaming, and grimy all at once, proving that celebrated author Rosellen Brown is back with a story as luminous as ever.

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What You Don't See

Tracy Clark

Cass Raines knows the streets of Chicago all too well as a cop turned private investigator. A new case gives a glimpse into how the other half lives – and how they die...

Wealth. Power. Celebrity. Vonda Allen’s glossy magazine has taken the Windy City by storm, and she’s well on her way to building a one-woman media empire. Everybody adores her. Except the people who work for her. And the person who’s sending her flowers with death threats.

Vonda has employed off-duty cop Ben Mickerson as her bodyguard and when he needs some back-up no one fits the bill better than his ex-partner on the police force, Cass Raines. Cass is reluctant to take the job – she isn’t keen on playing babysitter to a celebrity – but agrees to as a favour to Ben.

When two of Vonda’s staff turn up dead, Ben and Cass must find the unknown assailant before someone else dies. Then Ben is taken out of action, Cass is left to find out what secrets Vonda is keeping, and who wants her dead. A task made even harder by enemies in the Chicago Police Department determined to stop Cass...

An explosive third novel from thrilling crime novelist, which fans of Ian K. Smith, Sue Grafton and the Cormoran Strike novels will love.

Praise for Tracy Clark

‘This street-smart first mystery boasts great characterization and a terrific new protagonist. Get this writer on your radar now.’ Booklist

Unforgettable. . . . Distinctive, vividly written characters lift this promising debut. Readers will be eager for the sequel.’ Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

‘Clark’s kickoff to an exciting new character-driven series explores the dynamics between a black investigator and a white world in a story ripped from the headlines.’ Kirkus Reviews

‘Clark’s compelling, suspenseful, and action-packed debut introduces a dogged, tough African American woman investigator who is complex and courageous and surrounded by a family of fascinating misfits. Fans of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone or Sara Paretsky’s V.I Warshawski will welcome Cass Raines to their ranks.’ Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

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Eli's Promise

Ronald H. Balson

"National Jewish Book Award winner Ron Balson returns triumphantly with Eli’s Promise, a captivating saga of the Holocaust and its aftermath spanning decades and continents. Readers will not be able to put this book down, but will turn the pages compulsively with heart in throat, eager to learn the fate of the Rosen family. Balson’s meticulous historical detail, vivid prose and unforgettable characters further solidify his place among the most esteemed writers of historical fiction today."
Pam Jenoff, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Lost Girls of Paris

A "fixer" in a Polish town during World War II, his betrayal of a Jewish family, and a search for justice 25 years later—by the winner of the National Jewish Book Award.


Eli's Promise is a masterful work of historical fiction spanning three eras—Nazi-occupied Poland, the American Zone of post-war Germany, and Chicago at the height of the Vietnam War. Award-winning author Ronald H. Balson explores the human cost of war, the mixed blessings of survival, and the enduring strength of family bonds.

1939: Eli Rosen lives with his wife Esther and their young son in the Polish town of Lublin, where his family owns a construction company. As a consequence of the Nazi occupation, Eli’s company is Aryanized, appropriated and transferred to Maximilian Poleski—an unprincipled profiteer who peddles favors to Lublin’s subjugated residents. An uneasy alliance is formed; Poleski will keep the Rosen family safe if Eli will manage the business. Will Poleski honor his promise or will their relationship end in betrayal and tragedy?

1946: Eli resides with his son in a displaced persons camp in Allied-occupied Germany hoping for a visa to America. His wife has been missing since the war. One man is sneaking around the camps selling illegal visas; might he know what has happened to her?

1965: Eli rents a room in Albany Park, Chicago. He is on a mission. With patience, cunning, and relentless focus, he navigates unfamiliar streets and dangerous political backrooms, searching for the truth. Powerful and emotional, Ronald H. Balson's Eli's Promise is a rich, rewarding novel of World War II and a husband’s quest for justice.

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Saving Ruby King

Catherine Adel West

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by Ms. Magazine, USA Today Book Riot, The Rumpus, Library Journal, PureWow, The Every Girl, Parade and more.

“Forever and to the end. That’s what they say instead of I love you.”

When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it’s a devastating loss that leaves her on her own with her violent father. While she receives many condolences, her best friend, Layla, is the only one who understands how this puts Ruby in jeopardy.

Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what is the price for turning a blind eye? In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla uncovers the murky loyalties and dangerous secrets that have bound their families together for generations. Only by facing this legacy of trauma head-on will Ruby be able to break free.

An unforgettable debut novel, Saving Ruby King is a powerful testament that history doesn’t determine the present and the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.

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The House on Mango Street

Sandra Cisneros

The bestselling coming-of-age classic, acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught in schools and universities alike, and translated around the world—from the winner of the 2019 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes-sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous-Sandra Cisneros' masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

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Becoming

Michelle Obama

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America--the first African American to serve in that role--she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her--from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it--in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations--and whose story inspires us to do the same.

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Chicago

Brian Doyle

On the last day of summer, a young college grad moves to Chicago and rents a small apartment on the north side of the city, by the lake. This is the story of the five seasons he lives there, during which he meets gangsters, gamblers, policemen, a brave and garrulous bus driver, a cricket player, a librettist, his first girlfriend, a shy apartment manager, and many other riveting souls, not to mention a wise and personable dog of indeterminate breed.

A love letter to Chicago, the Great American City, and a wry account of a young man’s coming-of-age during the one summer in White Sox history when they had the best outfield in baseball, Chicago is a novel that will plunge you into a city you will never forget and may well wish to visit for the rest of your days.

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The Good Girl

Mary Kubica

Look out for Mary Kubica’s chilling new thriller, Local Woman Missing!

Over a million copies sold.

“A twisty, roller coaster ride of a debut. Fans of Gone Girl will embrace this equally evocative tale.” —Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.

Look for these other pulse-pounding thrillers by New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica:

  • Pretty Baby
  • Don’t You Cry
  • Every Last Lie
  • When the Lights Go Out
  • The Other Mrs.
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Windy City Blues

Renée Rosen

In 1960s Chicago, a young woman stands in the middle of a musical and social revolution. A new historical novel from the bestselling author of White Collar Girl and What the Lady Wants.

"The rise of the Chicago Blues scene fairly shimmers with verve and intensity, and the large, diverse cast of characters is indelibly portrayed with the perfect pitch of a true artist."
--Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue

Leeba Groski doesn't exactly fit in, but her love of music is not lost on her childhood friend and neighbor, Leonard Chess, who offers her a job at his new record company in Chicago. What starts as answering phones and filing becomes more than Leeba ever dreamed of, as she comes into her own as a songwriter and crosses paths with legendary performers like Chuck Berry and Etta James. But it's Red Dupree, a black blues guitarist from Louisiana, who captures her heart and changes her life.

Their relationship is unwelcome in segregated Chicago and they are shunned by Leeba's Orthodox Jewish family. Yet in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, Leeba and Red discover that, in times of struggle, music can bring people together.

READERS GUIDE INSIDE

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The Devil in the White City

Erik Larson

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - The true tale of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and the cunning serial killer who used the magic and majesty of the fair to lure his victims to their death.

"Relentlessly fuses history and entertainment to give this nonfiction book the dramatic effect of a novel .... It doesn't hurt that this truth is stranger than fiction." --The New York Times

Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America's rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair's brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country's most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his "World's Fair Hotel" just west of the fairgrounds--a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.

Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into the enchantment of the Guilded Age, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. Erik Larson's gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.

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Family Secrets

Jeff Coen

Even in Chicago, a city steeped in mob history and legend, the Family Secrets case was a true spectacle when it made it to court in 2007. A top mob boss, a reputed consigliere, and other high-profile members of the Chicago Outfit were accused in a total of eighteen gangland killings, revealing organized crime's ruthless grip on the city throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Painting a vivid picture of murder, courtroom drama, family loyalties and disloyalties, journalist Jeff Coen accurately portrays the Chicago Outfit's cold-blooded--and sometimes incompetent--killers and their crimes in the case that brought them down. In 1998 Frank Calabrese Jr. volunteered to wear a wire to gather evidence against his father, a vicious loan shark who strangled most of his victims with a rope before slitting their throats to ensure they were dead. Frank Jr. went after his uncle Nick as well, a calculating but sometimes bumbling hit man who would become one of the highest-ranking turncoats in mob history, admitting he helped strangle, stab, shoot, and bomb victims who got in the mob's way, and turning evidence against his brother Frank. The Chicago courtroom took on the look and feel of a movie set as Chicago's most colorful mobsters and their equally flamboyant attorneys paraded through and performed: James “Jimmy Light” Marcello, the acting head of the Chicago mob; Joey “the Clown” Lombardo, one of Chicago's most eccentric mobsters; Paul “the Indian” Schiro; and a former Chicago police officer, Anthony “Twan” Doyle, among others. Re-creating events from court transcripts, police records, interviews, and notes taken day after day as the story unfolded in court, Coen provides a riveting wide-angle view and one of the best accounts on record of the inner workings of the Chicago syndicate and its control over the city's streets.

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The Third Coast

Thomas L. Dyja

 Winner of the Chicago Tribune‘s 2013 Heartland Prize

A critically acclaimed history of Chicago at mid-century, featuring many of the incredible personalities that shaped American culture

 
Before air travel overtook trains, nearly every coast-to-coast journey included a stop in Chicago, and this flow of people and commodities made it the crucible for American culture and innovation. In luminous prose, Chicago native Thomas Dyja re-creates the story of the city in its postwar prime and explains its profound impact on modern America—from Chess Records to Playboy, McDonald’s to the University of Chicago. Populated with an incredible cast of characters, including Mahalia Jackson, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Sun Ra, Simone de Beauvoir, Nelson Algren, Gwendolyn Brooks, Studs Turkel, and Mayor Richard J. Daley, The Third Coast recalls the prominence of the Windy City in all its grandeur.

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High-Risers

Ben Austen

Joining the ranks of Evicted, The Warmth of Other Sons, and classic works of literary non-fiction by Alex Kotlowitz and J. Anthony Lukas, High-Risers braids personal narratives, city politics, and national history to tell the timely and epic story of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green, America’s most iconic public housing project.

Built in the 1940s atop an infamous Italian slum, Cabrini-Green grew to twenty-three towers and a population of 20,000—all of it packed onto just seventy acres a few blocks from Chicago’s ritzy Gold Coast. Cabrini-Green became synonymous with crime, squalor, and the failure of government. For the many who lived there, it was also a much-needed resource—it was home. By 2011, every high-rise had been razed, the island of black poverty engulfed by the white affluence around it, the families dispersed.

In this novelistic and eye-opening narrative, Ben Austen tells the story of America’s public housing experiment and the changing fortunes of American cities. It is an account told movingly though the lives of residents who struggled to make a home for their families as powerful forces converged to accelerate the housing complex’s demise. Beautifully written, rich in detail, and full of moving portraits, High-Risers is a sweeping exploration of race, class, popular culture, and politics in modern America that brilliantly considers what went wrong in our nation’s effort to provide affordable housing to the poor—and what we can learn from those mistakes.

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Ghosts in the Schoolyard

Eve L. Ewing

"Failing schools. Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools."

That's how Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard: describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt.

But Ewing knows Chicago Public Schools from the inside: as a student, then a teacher, and now a scholar who studies them. And that perspective has shown her that public schools are not buildings full of failures--they're an integral part of their neighborhoods, at the heart of their communities, storehouses of history and memory that bring people together.

Never was that role more apparent than in 2013 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an unprecedented wave of school closings. Pitched simultaneously as a solution to a budget problem, a response to declining enrollments, and a chance to purge bad schools that were dragging down the whole system, the plan was met with a roar of protest from parents, students, and teachers. But if these schools were so bad, why did people care so much about keeping them open, to the point that some would even go on a hunger strike?

Ewing's answer begins with a story of systemic racism, inequality, bad faith, and distrust that stretches deep into Chicago history. Rooting her exploration in the historic African American neighborhood of Bronzeville, Ewing reveals that this issue is about much more than just schools. Black communities see the closing of their schools--schools that are certainly less than perfect but that are theirs--as one more in a long line of racist policies. The fight to keep them open is yet another front in the ongoing struggle of black people in America to build successful lives and achieve true self-determination.

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An American Summer

Alex Kotlowitz

2020 J. ANTHONY LUKAS PRIZE WINNER

From the bestselling author of There Are No Children Here, a richly textured, heartrending portrait of love and death in Chicago's most turbulent neighborhoods.


The numbers are staggering: over the past twenty years in Chicago, 14,033 people have been killed and another roughly 60,000 wounded by gunfire. What does that do to the spirit of individuals and community? Drawing on his decades of experience, Alex Kotlowitz set out to chronicle one summer in the city, writing about individuals who have emerged from the violence and whose stories capture the capacity--and the breaking point--of the human heart and soul. The result is a spellbinding collection of deeply intimate profiles that upend what we think we know about gun violence in America. Among others, we meet a man who as a teenager killed a rival gang member and twenty years later is still trying to come to terms with what he's done; a devoted school social worker struggling with her favorite student, who refuses to give evidence in the shooting death of his best friend; the witness to a wrongful police shooting who can't shake what he has seen; and an aging former gang leader who builds a place of refuge for himself and his friends.
Applying the close-up, empathic reporting that made There Are No Children Here a modern classic, Kotlowitz offers a piercingly honest portrait of a city in turmoil. These sketches of those left standing will get into your bones. This one summer will stay with you.

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A Most Beautiful Thing

Arshay Cooper

Now a documentary narrated by Common, produced by Grant Hill, Dwyane Wade, and 9th Wonder, from filmmaker Mary Mazzio

The moving true story of a group of young men growing up on Chicago's West side who form the first all-Black high school rowing team in the nation, and in doing so not only transform a sport, but their lives.


Growing up on Chicago’s Westside in the 90’s, Arshay Cooper knows the harder side of life. The street corners are full of gangs, the hallways of his apartment complex are haunted by drug addicts he calls “zombies” with strung out arms, clutching at him as he passes by. His mother is a recovering addict, and his three siblings all sleep in a one room apartment, a small infantry against the war zone on the street below.

Arshay keeps to himself, preferring to write poetry about the girl he has a crush on, and spends his school days in the home-ec kitchen dreaming of becoming a chef. And then one day as he’s walking out of school he notices a boat in the school lunchroom, and a poster that reads “Join the Crew Team”.

Having no idea what the sport of crew is, Arshay decides to take a chance. This decision to join is one that will forever change his life, and those of his fellow teammates. As Arshay and his teammates begin to come together to learn how to row--many never having been in water before--the sport takes them from the mean streets of Chicago, to the hallowed halls of the Ivy League. But Arshay and his teammates face adversity at every turn, from racism, gang violence, and a sport that has never seen anyone like them before.

A Most Beautiful Thing is the inspiring true story about the most unlikely band of brothers that form a family, and forever change a sport and their lives for the better.

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