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Books to Help You Make It Through the New Year

Local authors turn politics into literature.


By all indications, 2017 figures to be another torturous year, and Bay Area authors have rallied with three locally placed stories in which the personal gets political—a fitting theme for these troubled times.

Class Struggle by the Bay
An East Bay mom story—with a twist. A Mexican immigrant and a well-off Indian American wife struggle for belonging in Shanthi Sekaran’s second novel, Lucky Boy (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, January 10). Eighteen-year-old Solimar escapes a life of poverty in Mexico, arriving in bucolic Berkeley destitute, battered, and pregnant. Meanwhile, thirtysomething Kavya lives a contented life with her Silicon Valley husband as the two women’s worlds collide.

Mean Girls, Marin Edition
Marin County’s kids are not all right in Lindsey Lee Johnson’s debut novel, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth (Random House, January 10). A new teacher tries to unravel a vicious secret hidden by a group of privileged, not-quite-Breakfast Club teens obsessed with materialism and technology in a fictionalized high school. Johnson manages to intensify the perils of adolescence in the same vein as Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep and Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You.

East Bay History Lesson
Now’s the perfect moment for a civil rights refresher, which makes Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (January 30)—the first of Berkeley publisher Heyday Books’ Fighting for Justice series—right on time. Korematsu, an Oakland-born Japanese American who resisted internment during WWII, is given powerful treatment by authors Laura Atkins (of Berkeley) and Stan Yogi and compelling images by Oakland illustrator Yutaka Houlette. Read it with a young revolutionary by your side.

Originally published in the January issue of San Francisco 

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