When Stars Align: So Bright You’ll Need Sunglasses

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 26 2009 2:51 PM

When Stars Align: So Bright You’ll Need Sunglasses

Four trade magazines, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Library Journal, offer short reviews of many thousands of books. Of particular interest to editors are those that receive a "star" for unusual merit. This regular feature highlights new titles with stars from at least three of the four publications.

Our fourth When Stars Align includes 18 books that received three or more stars—a 300 percent increase from our last roundup. This isn't such a surprise, since publishers are saying that this fall will see the release of numerous great, industry-redeeming books. To save space, we've given special attention to two works that received stars from all four trade magazines and have simply listed the remaining titles.


Victor Lodato's debut novel, Mathilda Savitch , centers on a 13-year-old girl who is trying to cope with the tragic death of her older sister. Convinced that her sister was murdered, the young Mathilda hacks into her e-mail correspondence to recreate her final days and solve the mystery. Publisher's Weekly says Mathilda is "a metaphysical Holden Caulfield for the terrifying present day." Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly.

In Stitches , a graphic memoir, author and illustrator David Small tells the story of his difficult childhood. His father, a radiologist, subjected him to repeated X-rays that eventually led to throat cancer. A botched operation later left him mute. Kirkus calls the book "emotionally raw [and] artistically compelling," and Booklist raves: "Think no less than Maus ." Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly.


Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow . Booklist, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly.

Love and Summer by William Trevor . Kirkus, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly.

The Year of the Flood  by Margaret Atwoo d. Booklist, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly.


Crossers by Philip Caputo . Kirkus, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly .

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon . Booklist, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly.


Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich . Booklist, Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly.

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan . Booklist, Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly.

The Case for God by Karen Armstrong . Booklist, Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly.

The Good Soldiers by David Finkel . Booklist, Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly.

The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs  by Jon Franklin . Booklist, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly.

Young-Adult Fiction

Fire by Kristin Cashore . Kirkus, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly.

A Season of Gifts  by Richard Peck . Booklist, Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly.

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo . Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal.

Children's Literature—Picture books

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney . Booklist, Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly.

Children's Literature—Nonfiction

A Savage Thunder by Jim Murphy . Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal.

Years of Dust by Albert Marrin . Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal.



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