Staff Pick

A path-breaking astrophysicist, Seager “spent my life searching for lights in the dark.” Then her husband died and she was plunged into a new kind of darkness, one that left her feeling like a rogue planet: adrift in the universe with no sun to orbit. As that metaphor conveys, Seager was centered by more than loss, and in this bracingly honest memoir, she puts her personal catastrophe in the largest possible context, intertwining her struggle to adjust to grief and raise her two young sons alone with her ongoing search for life in the cosmos. The challenges are formidable, often turning the rational scientist into a mess of tears and panic. But sustained by her passion for the stars (“the places where science and magic meet”) and helped by her children and the Widows of Concord (a group of bereaved women who support each other with regular get-togethers, practical advice, and the exchange of recipes, clothes, and dating tips), Seager slowly comes to terms with the pain, anger, and confusion of her new role, discovering truths she articulates with often heartbreaking lucidity: “when you lose someone,” she says,” you don’t lose them all at once, and the dying doesn’t stop with their death. You lose them a thousand times in a thousand ways. You say a thousand goodbyes.”

The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525576259
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Crown - August 18th, 2020

Staff Pick

Moore was five when her native Liberia erupted in civil war, prompting her family to flee to Sierra Leone and, later the U.S. This was also the year her mother was away, studying at Columbia on a Fulbright. In language as powerful as her story, the author of She Would Be King channels these fraught experiences through both her child and adult sensibilities, delivering a narrative of modern displacement and racism that’s richly inflected with the magical lyricism of a griot’s tale. Her talent with voices is especially effective in the book’s conclusion, when she ghostwrites her mother’s story; these chapters fill in the details of her family’s miraculous escape, show us Moore’s two extraordinary parents—and their blessed marriage—in close up, and celebrate the strength of Vai women such as Moore’s paternal grandmother, who, when she “hummed… her voice formed a shield around us.”

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781644450314
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Graywolf Press - June 2nd, 2020

Staff Pick

The arresting title of Elliott’s powerful essay collection is the English rendering of a Mohawk word for depression. Asking, “is there a language of depression” or is depression the “opposite of language,” Elliot draws on her experience as a biracial Haudenosaunee/white woman and the daughter of a mother with bipolar illness to explore the legacy of “centuries of systemic racism” that has marked the lives and the very genes of Indigenous peoples. As she traces the myriad economic, educational, and nutritional deficits that have beset Native Americans—due first to genocidal policies, then to the official and cultural denial of them—Elliott shows that Indigenous trauma can’t be healed by empathy, however well intended. Rather, it requires that people do the work necessary to meet on a ground of true understanding, respect, and love for each other. Elliott accepts this challenge, mediating her anger in order to view her heritage not as “a curse meant to tear me in two; …[but] a call to uphold the different responsibilities that came with each part of me.”

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground Cover Image
ISBN: 9781612198668
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Melville House - August 4th, 2020