June Thomas of Slate reports for NY1 on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
Can you ever truly know another person? Do you really want to? These are the questions at the center of two great new books coming in May from the Penguin Press.
In "She Left Me the Gun", British journalist Emma Brockes investigates what the subtitle calls "My Mother's Life Before Me." Even though she and her mother, Paula, were always close, Emma knew very little about Paula’s early life in South Africa. In her final days, Paula told Emma part of the shocking story of her difficult childhood. Later, Emma traveled to South Africa to uncover the secrets that were too painful to face when her mother was alive. The result is a beautiful, moving portrait of a brave, complicated woman who saved her siblings but had to leave them behind and start a new life, and a new family, 6,000 miles away.
Elliott Holt’s first novel, "You Are One of Them," looks at the ways secrets can destroy friendships. In 1982, Sarah Zuckerman and Jennifer Jones, best pals growing up in Washington, D.C., write letters to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, asking for peace. When Andropov invites Jenny to visit the Soviet Union, she becomes an international sensation, until she and her family perish in a plane crash. A decade later, Sarah travels to Moscow when she receives a letter that claims Jenny may not be dead after all. Holt is an expert guide to both of the superpower capitals and to the psyche of an abandoned friend.
Look for reviews of the best new releases on the Slate Book Review at slate.com/books.