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JUNE 2024

We Were the Universe
by Kimberly King Parsons

Available from Knopf

Sign-up deadline for this title: May 15, 2024

"A wrenchingly honest novel, full of dark wit and feral delight, about a new mother navigating the trippy, uncharted wilderness between love and grief." —Jenny Offill, New York Times bestselling author of Weather

The trip was supposed to be fun. When Kit's best friend gets dumped by his boyfriend, he begs her to ditch her family responsibilities for an idyllic weekend in the Montana mountains. They'll soak in hot springs, then sneak a vape into a dive bar and drink too much, like old times. Instead, their getaway only reminds Kit of everything she's lost lately: her wildness, her independence, and--most heartbreaking of all--her sister, Julie, who died a few years ago. 

 

When she returns home to the Dallas suburbs, Kit tries to settle in to her routine--long afternoons spent caring for her irrepressible daughter, going on therapist-advised dates with her concerned husband, and reluctantly taking her mother's phone calls. But in the secret recesses of Kit's mind, she's reminiscing about the band she used to be in--and how they'd go out to the desert after shows and drop acid. She's imagining an impossible threesome with her kid's pretty gymnastics teacher and the cool playground mom. Keyed into everything that might distract from her surfacing pain, Kit spirals. As her already thin boundaries between reality and fantasy blur, she begins to wonder: Is Julie really gone? 

 

Neon bright in its insight, both devastating and laugh-out-loud funny, We Were the Universe is an ambitious, inventive novel from a revelatory new voice in American fiction--a fearless exploration of sisterhood, motherhood, friendship, marriage, psychedelics, and the many strange, transcendent shapes love can take.

JULY 2024:

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THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL: LOVE IN BLACK AND BROWN, by Nina Sharma (Penguin Press)

Sign-up deadline: June 15, 2024

"Nina Sharma's thoughtful debut is equal parts memoir, criticism, and long-ranging conversation with a new friend. A love story for the ruminative reader that is generous with both scrutiny and romance." --Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award 

A hilarious and moving memoir in essays about love and allyship, told through one Asian and Black interracial relationship.


When Nina Sharma meets Quincy while hitching a ride to a friend's Fourth of July barbecue, she spots a favorite book, Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior, in the back seat of his cramped car, and senses a sadness from him that's all too familiar to her. She is immediately intrigued--who is this man? In The Way You Make Me Feel, Sharma chronicles her and Quincy's love story, and in doing so, examines how their Black and Asian relationship becomes the lens through which she moves through and understands the world. 


In a series of sensual and sparkling essays, Sharma reckons with caste, race, colorism, and mental health, moving from her seemingly idyllic suburban childhood through her and Quincy's early sweeping romance in the so-called postracial Obama years and onward to their marriage. Growing up, she hears her parents talk about the racism they experienced at the hands of white America--and as an adult, she confronts the complexities of American racism and the paradox of her family's disappointment when she starts dating a Black man. While watching The Walking Dead, Sharma dives into the eerie parallels between the brutal death of Steven Yeun's character and the murder of Vincent Chin. She examines the trailblazing Mira Nair film Mississippi Masala, revolutionary in its time for depicting a love story between an Indian woman and a Black man on screen, and considers why interracial relationships are so often assumed to include white people. And as she and Quincy decide whether to start a family, they imagine a universe in which Vice President Kamala Harris could possibly be their time-traveling daughter. 

Written with a keen critical eye and seamlessly weaving in history, pop culture, and politics, The Way You Make Me Feel reaffirms the idea that allyship is an act of true love.

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