Get notified of Words&Dirt updates

Tag: adolescence

Review: Lily Brooks-Dalton’s “Good Morning, Midnight”

Lily Brooks-Dalton’s Good Morning, Midnight was the perfect book to wrap up a tough and tumultuous year. This short, dazzling novel is a mournful but energetic meditation on humanity’s struggle to find meaning and connection in a vast and threat-strewn universe. Brooks-Dalton’s narrative toggles back and forth between two plot threads, both set against the ominous backdrop [...]

Review: Toni Morrison’s “Sula”

Sula is the first Toni Morrison novel I’ve read, but I’m certain it won’t be the last. This captivating tale of two Black girls growing up in Bottom––a hilly, early-20th-century Ohio town––left me with no questions whatsoever about why Morrison is a core member of the American literary canon. Though her characters and story are plenty [...]

Review: Madeleine Thien’s “Do Not Say We Have Nothing”

In his 2011 book Confucian Role Ethics, philosopher Roger T. Ames reflects on the relationship between individual identity, family dynamics, and music in the Confucian tradition: The timelessness and broad appeal of the teachings of Confucius begins from the insight that the life of almost every human being, regardless of where or when, is played out within [...]

Review: Ada Palmer’s “Seven Surrenders”

Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota Quartet continues to delight and astound me. Since Seven Surrenders was originally planned as the second half of Too Like the Lightning, please start with my review of that book; I won’t repeat key information about the series that was covered there. Better yet, just stop reading this review and get your hands on a copy of Too [...]

Review: Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”

If I could trade the fictional world of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for the real one, I’d seriously consider it. This tale of familial bonding and kind neighborliness will warm even the coldest heart. Set in New England during and after the American Civil War, the novel charts the adolescence and early adulthood of the four March [...]

Review: William Rawlins’s “Friendship Matters”

Late last year, I spent several months writing a series of essays on the nature of friendship. I wish I had read William Rawlins’s Friendship Matters before undertaking that process, but unfortunately I only discovered it after completing the essays. This dry but extremely thorough examination of friendship is an essential text for anyone who cares about [...]

Review: Gabriel García Márquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera”

This is the third novel I’ve read by Gabriel García Márquez, and I won’t be surprised if it turns out to be the last. Love in the Time of Cholera is a beautifully-written book packed with a wealth of vibrant symbolism, but its thematic and interpersonal qualities are unmistakably corrupt. Márquez’s prose––expertly enlivened by Edith Grossman’s [...]

Review: Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale”

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.” (1) So begins Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, which gripped me from the opening sentence and didn’t let go until I tore through the final pages. [...]

Review: Claire North’s “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August”

Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is the fantastical tale of a man with a peculiar affliction––or a gift, depending on your point of view. Harry August is born a British citizen in 1919, lives an undistinguished life as a groundskeeper, and dies seventy years later. But instead of entering an afterlife or [...]

Review: Amor Towles’s “A Gentleman in Moscow”

What does a society desperate to escape monarchic domination do with a plucky, refined member of its extant aristocracy? In Amor Towles’s enchanting portrait of post-revolutionary Russia, the answer is to place him under permanent house arrest in The Metropol, Moscow’s most renowned hotel. He will be stripped of his titles, his luxurious lodgings, and [...]