Books

A lot has been written on the subject of addiction, but Nina Renata Aron’s unflinching memoir, Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls, tells a story often overlooked—the story of what it’s like to be in love with a person who struggles with addiction. Aron intersperses her own experiences with historical and psychological context, dispelling misconceptions about the temperance movement, Al-Anon, and codependence. Here, Aron and I spoke about her book, relationships, and motherhood. Your book details the temperance movement, the history of Alcoholics Anonymous, and codependent theory....
Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat is a beautiful, complicated epic of agrarian life in South Africa from 1948 onward, and it explores the evolution of a relationship between two women who take care of one another. Agaat, for whom the book is named, is a nurse, farmhand, and nanny essential to the functioning of the farm, Grootmoedersdrift. The complex relationship between Agaat and the woman who takes her in, farm matron Milla de Wet, is the heart and soul of this book. Over the span of...
I was supposed to write this article, an interview with Spider-Woman writer Karla Pacheco, almost a year ago. I messed up, but the world is currently kind of on fire, so we're okay. I bring this up to you, dear reader, because the irony of the situation does not go over my head: I messed up writing a story about the amazing Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, who also at times has great intentions but f**ks up. Pacheco's Spider-Woman run has experienced a couple of setbacks because...
Few things are as cliché as a character standing on the edge of a bridge, contemplating suicide, in the pouring rain, before being rescued at the last moment. But these scenes play out effortlessly in the opening chapters of This Close to Okay by Leesa CrossSmith. The narrative bounces between the voices of Tallie and Emmett (our “we’re not in love” duo), which is a fun way to tell the tale of two secret-keeping soon-to-be lovers. Without wasting any time, Tallie convinces Emmett to get...
If you’ve ever yearned for a healthy dose of feminism in your high school English class unit on The Grapes of Wrath, consider your wishes granted. Kristin Hannah’s new novel, The Four Winds, reads like a feminist rewriting of history, calling out the sexism inherent in our stories of the Great Depression and the Dustbowl. “It was always about the men,” the prologue proclaims. Well, not in this book. Hannah is doggedly attentive to her female characters, punching up the text with great one-liners as her...
Rachel is 24 and ravenous; for her mother’s love, for her Jewish faith which she’s strayed too far away from, and for all of the food she’s forbidden herself to eat. She maintains a sense of control by counting calories and going to the gym. But her rigidly structured days fracture when her therapist encourages her to take a 90-day break from her mother. The effort of this estrangement weakens her to Miriam—an Orthodox Jewish woman and new employee at Rachel’s favorite frozen yogurt shop,...
Lona, the main character in Georgina Young’s novel Loner, is just 19, but her plight is ageless. Having recently dropped out of art school, she’s unsure about her career prospects, questioning the point of dating and other social pursuits, and not convinced that art—her own or anyone else’s—is worth anything at all. She drifts in and out of her family, spending time with her best friend when she’s not taking shifts at a grocery store or DJing for middle schoolers at a roller rink, searching...
Like every girl in Otera, 16-year-old Deka must undergo a ceremony which will determine her place in society. It is a test of purity: if her blood runs red, she’ll be allowed to join the ranks of the “pure” women in her community. However, already an outcast by virtue of her skin color, Deka’s blood runs gold and she is deemed impure. She is then beaten, brutalized, and tortured until a mysterious woman makes her an offer: stay in her community, or join the Alaki,...
Everyone I know (myself included) wishes they were a bigger reader. With the world a complete mess right now, in every sense of the word, it’s truly challenging to fight off distractions for long enough to get through a whole novel. So, let’s get back into the swing of things by starting small with some fantastic short stories that encourage a complex, diverse view of the world. Oftentimes, short stories get the short end of the reading stick. They aren't exactly what publishers would consider market-friendly,...
Reese, a whip-smart 30-something trans woman living in Brooklyn, wasn’t always so disillusioned. At one point, she lived in a beautiful apartment right by Prospect Parkwith her girlfriend, Amy—also a trans woman—and dreamed of motherhood. But ever since a traumatic incident compelled Amy to detransition and torpedoed their relationship, Reese has been trapped in a cycle of relationships with narcissistic (and married) men. Her world is thrown for a loop when her ex—now named Ames—comes back into her life with a shocking announcement: Katrina—the woman...