New and Notable in the Library’s Recreational Reading Collection:

(2nd Floor of Library at the base of the stairs)

Claire Kells Girl Underwater (Dutton 2015) available at: LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3611.E4443G57 2015

A plane crash in the Rockies leaves more than physical scars on an up-and-coming competitive college swimmer. Kells expertly ratchets up the tension in her thrilling debut novel as she shifts back and forth between the frigid Colorado wilderness and chlorinated pools. Sophomore Avery Delacorte is excited to make her mark on the cutthroat college swimming circuit far from her native Boston and her controlling father. But when she takes a crowded flight back east for Thanksgiving, along with fellow swimmer Colin Shea, the plane goes down in the Rockies. After the first day, Avery, Colin and three little boys—Tim, 6, Liam, 4, and toddler Aayu—are the only survivors. It would be easy to keep readers in suspense about the group’s overall fate, but Kells makes the more interesting choice to alternate among the events leading up to the crash, the five-day wilderness ordeal and Avery’s bumpy recovery. It’s clear early on that the press’ version of the story and the truth are not one and the same, but Kells cleverly teases out exactly how the two accounts differ as readers come to learn more about Avery, particularly her complicated relationships with Colin and with the sport of swimming itself. The children, and their growing adoration for their surrogate forest parents in the wake of the crash that orphaned them, are integral to the story and as such are realistically depicted, much to Kells’ credit. With its subzero temperatures that will make you reach for a blanket and a wounded but never weakened heroine, Kells’ assured debut is a winner. (Review from Kirkus)

Garth Risk Hallberg City on Fire (Knopf 2015) available at: LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3608.A54827C57 2015

Rough-edged mid-1970s New York provides the backdrop for an epic panorama of musicians, writers, and power brokers and the surprising ways they connect. New Year’s Eve 1976: Sam, a fanzine author and hanger-on in the Manhattan punk scene, abandons her plan to attend a concert and instead heads to Central Park, where she’s later discovered shot and clinging to life. Why’d she head uptown? Who shot her? Thereby hangs a remarkably assured, multivalent tale that strives to explore multiple strata of Manhattan life with photographic realism. Most prominent in this busy milieu are William, the scion of a banking family who’s abandoned money for the sake of music, art, and drugs; Nicky, the coke-fueled head of an East Village squat who delivers motor-mouthed pronunciamentos on post-humanism and is curiously in the know about arson in the Bronx; Richard, a magazine journalist whose profile of Sam’s father, the head of a fireworks firm, leads to suspicion that there’s a bigger story to be told. With more than 900 pages at his disposal, Hallberg (A Field Guide to the North American Family, 2007) gives his characters plenty of breathing room, but the story never feels overwritten, and the plotlines interlace without feeling pat. One theme of the novel is the power that stories, true or false, have over our lives, so it’s hard to miss other writers’ influences here. At times the novel feels like a metafictional tribute to America’s finest doorstop manufacturers, circa 1970 to the present: Price (street-wise cops), Wolfe (top-tier wealth), Franzen (busted families), Wallace (the seductions of drugs and pop culture), and DeLillo (the unseen forces behind everything). That’s not to say he’s written a pastiche, but as his various plotlines braid tighter during the July 1977 blackout, his novel becomes an ambitious showpiece for just how much the novel can contain without busting apart. The very-damn-good American novel. (Review from Kirkus)