Book Reviews and Recommendations

Here is a selection of titles and short reviews from our WHPL patrons to help you find your next great read:


The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez by Aaron Bobrow-Strain

I very much liked The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story by Aaron Bobrow-Strain. It interweaves the story of a young Mexican illegal immigrant with engaging chapters about border policy and law. Learning how changes to immigration law in the late 1980s through the 1990s impacted Aida and her family made it feel very personal. I also liked that Aida wasn’t the “model, do everything right” immigrant that is often portrayed in stories sympathetic to immigrants; she is a much more complex, contradictory character. The book also made it clear how policies enacted 30 years ago are still having such a huge influence on the country today.”  -Karen

 Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

 “This book was recommended by Elin Hilderbrand. I really liked it. It was a very unusual format in that it told a lot of the story by answers to a survey.”  -Paula

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

“The writer is a trained biologist (PhD is in Botany) and a member of the Potawatomi Nation. Her book is full of love for the natural world and a plea for a change in our relationship to nature. This is not a book to read quickly, one to return to many times. Best to buy this one if you decide you like it! Many of the stories brought tears to my eyes.  -Liz

The Gilded Razor: A Memoir by Sam Lansky

“I learned about Sam Lansky’s memoir from an interview with him on my favorite podcast “Keep It!” recently. Lansky lays himself bare in his recounting of his teenage and young adult years, spiraling out of control with drugs and unsafe sexual encounters. His story was hard to read at times because it was so sad, but I think that it is an important narrative to have out there. I recommend this book to everyone, particularly those who are working to truly see the person behind an addiction. I think it’s also a good read for anyone who works with teenagers or has children, because it shows how sometimes the surface of a young person’s life can look fine, but behind the scenes they are in serious turmoil and need an adult to keep pushing on to help them.”  -Grace

Thin Air and Wild Fire both by Ann Cleeves

“I’d recommend any of the Ann Cleeves books to someone looking for a good mystery that is deep in character studies and British Isles life. The DVD series from PBS are also good summer watching, especially the Vera series (super).”  -Carol

Breath by James Nestor

” Well written. Interesting topic and some tips about breathing!”  -Rita

The Ickabog by JK Rowling

“I am sad to finish the Ickabog. My mom, sister and I read it together. I enjoyed it!”  -Eamon

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

“This book is part 3 of the Eragon series. This book is sad, at points funny, and action packed! Like Lord of the Rings mixed with Star Wars. Three thumbs up.”   -Charles

 The Sheep Stell by Janet White

 “Strong independent woman gives up a middle class life to become a shepherd. A great read.” -Betsy

Dirt Music by Tim Winton

You can tell the author of this book loves Australia, and reading it makes you feel like you’ve gone a trip there. Beautiful!” -Paula

The Second Midnight by Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor writes with the detail that puts you at the scene, in the hearts and minds of his characters and the times in which the book is set. This is WWII from a young boy’s point of view who is left to his own devices to survive. Very well written and engaging.” -Ann

North of Montana by April Smith

 “A fun, fast paced mystery.” -Nawrie

Reccomended reading from our Social Justice Book Group:

Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy

Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time with

Jesmyn Ward, ed., The Fire This Time

Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge

Toni Morrison, Sula, Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Origin of Others

Carol Anderson, White Rage, The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide

Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law, A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields, Racecraft, The Soul of Inequality in American Life

Ari Berman, Give Us the Ballot

George Yancy, On Race, 34 Conversations in a Time of Crisis & Backlash

Noliwe Rooks, Cutting School, Privatization, Segregation, and The End of Public Education

Tim Snyder, On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism

Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

Nancy MacLean, Democracy In Chains, The Deep History of The Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America 

Mark Engler and Paul Engler,This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century

Fransisco Cantu, The Line Becomes A River: Dispatches From The Border &/or Edwidge Danticat Create Dangerously, the immigrant artist at work 

Tiya Miles, Ties That Bind, The Story of An Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom

Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility, Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism
David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon, The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI 

David Silverman, This Land Is Their Land, The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving

Shane Bauer, American Prison

Eduardo Porter, American Poison

Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped From the Beginning, & How To Be An Antiracist

David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Native America From 1890 to the Present

Angela Saini, Superior, The Return of Race Science

Timothy Snyder, Our Malady, Llessons In Liberty from a Hospital Diary

Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive