Best New Books and E-Books: March 1, 2021

  • This Will Be Funny Someday by Katie Henry (YA Fiction): Sixteen-year-old Izzy is content with her life–or, at least, she’s trying to be. As the younger sibling to a boisterous pair of twins, the daughter of distracted parents and the girlfriend of a popular and somewhat clingy boyfriend, Izzy tries to fit in wherever she can. That mostly means remaining silent and fading into the background, whether at school, at home or with the people she calls her friends. So when Izzy accidentally and unwittingly stumbles into a comedy club, she seizes the opportunity to finally express herself. She forms genuine friendships with other young people she meets at the club who are as passionate about stand-up as she is and begins to build a new life outside the routine she’s always known. But keeping her two lives separate proves challenging, and Izzy is forced to reckon with who she really is and what she wants to stand for. Katie Henry’s third novel, This Will Be Funny Someday, is a vibrant and engaging coming-of-age story. The book plunges readers into Izzy’s life as she faces new experiences and hurdles that shape her identity, from her relationship with her boyfriend to her role in her family. Told from Izzy’s perspective, the novel is shaped by her unique point of view–a perspective that’s still growing into itself. The book’s dynamic cast of characters, including not just Izzy’s friends from the club but also her former best friend, Naomi, introduce realistic conflicts that readers will find both captivating and truthful, from sexism and racism to repairing a broken bond. Izzy’s story is about growth just as much as it is about success, and Henry demonstrates how she is subject to the consequences of her actions as well as worthy of her triumphs. Honest and hopeful, This Will Be Funny Someday will resonate with readers who crave characters who are authentic in both their struggles and their victories.
  • A New Day by Brad Meltzer and Dan Santat (e-book and e-audiobook available on the Axis 360 app with your library card; Children’s Picture Book: Ages 3-5): Sunday has been feeling overworked and underappreciated, so she walks off the job, leaving the remaining days of the week wondering how they’ll fill her shoes. The auditions to find her replacement quickly descend into hilarious chaos as the proposed successors grow more far-fetched; even “UnicornsWithFlashlightsForHornsDay” gets an audience. Monday through Saturday are run ragged from evaluating potential days full of sweets, dogs, hats and superheroes, while in the background, a group of frustrated cats continues their campaign for “Caturday.” How will the days of the week ever find the perfect seventh day? Bestselling author Brad Meltzer’s eclectic text is peppered with clever asides and loads of playful language as it bounces between narrative and dialogue, delivered energetically via speech bubbles. Pop culture and historical references run the gamut from Shark Week to Elbridge Gerry (James Madison’s vice president, for whom the practice of gerrymandering is named), sure to earn a laugh from readers of every age. Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat illustrates A New Day with all the energy and bustle of a zany animated movie. Cheerful and colorful, every page is eye-catching, entertaining and full of enticing details. Saturday rocks a beige cardigan that recalls Jeff Bridges’ iconic Big Lebowski character, but its pattern is formed by knitted letter z’s. Children gobble boxes labelled “CAN-D” and “SHOOGR.” The anthropomorphized days are instantly recognizable characters with the appearances and personalities we’d expect from them. Monday has a tie and holds a clipboard; Thursday has a laid-back, almost end-of-the-week smirk; and Friday wears a Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops. While A New Day begins like a rough day at the office and unwinds like a sugar-high explosion, it never loses its sense of purpose and teamwork. An enormously fun read with a heaping side of silliness, A New Day doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s an earnest reminder that, with a little creativity and thoughtfulness, we can make each day a day worth celebrating.
  • Win by Harlan Coben (e-book available on the Overdrive/Libby app with your library card; Suspense Novel): Windsor Horne Lockwood III has a charmed life: he’s a handsome, highly intelligent white man with access to immense generational wealth. But every rose has its thorn, and in Harlan Coben’s suspenseful and oft-surprising Win, the rakish titular character explains that he has long had to contend with negative assumptions due to his name, slight frame and regal bearing. Even this is an advantage, however: It’s caused him to cultivate exceptional combat skills (those who underestimate him soon regret it, often from a hospital bed). This has made him an excellent sidekick to Myron Bolitar, the sports agent-turned-investigator at the forefront of 11 of Coben’s novels thus far. With Win, the author is trying something completely different. For the first time since readers met Win in 1995, the “preternaturally overconfident” sidekick emerges from the shadows to take center stage. His origin story is a departure from Coben’s Bolitar-universe narrative norm, one that readers will find intriguing thanks to a voice that is less open and more calculating, bolstered by a largely misanthropic worldview. And Win’s got a lot to say, whether regarding his hedonistic pursuits or why the FBI thinks he knows something about a bizarre murder scene at a wealthy loner’s Manhattan penthouse. The FBI isn’t surprised Win doesn’t know the man, but are curious about two things found near him: a Vermeer painting stolen from the Lockwood family, and a suitcase bearing Win’s initials. The last time Win saw these items was 20 years prior, around the time his cousin Patricia was kidnapped and held prisoner at an isolated cabin. She escaped, but the case was never solved. Now, it seems this new murder victim was not only connected to Patricia’s terrifying ordeal, but to domestic terrorists who committed multiple as-yet-unsolved crimes 40 years ago. Ever the investigator, Win delves into the past and casts a critical eye on the present, using his wits and wealth to gain access and information. Coben, as is his wont, raises moral dilemmas readers will enjoy chewing on and pulse-pounding action scenes will keep the pages at least semi-frantically turning. As lies are challenged, secrets are revealed and seemingly impossible decisions made, Win makes it clear that “Life is lived in the grays.”

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