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Books

Cover for I Was Here
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I Was Here
Rachel Kadish
In a working-class town, the abuse of a young girl is hushed up by a community more interested in civility than justice. Twenty years later, a series of obscene texts revives that old injustice and ten seemingly unconnected lives are pulled into an intricate and dangerous swerve toward tragedy.
Why We Love It
This heart-stopping tale unfolds at the pace of a thriller, but its exquisite tension is generated by the precision of its character portraits. Just pages in, the anticipation is already deliciously unbearable—we're terrified for sweet, damaged Charlotte because she is so nakedly there on the page, a child-woman made vulnerable by her innocence. Already we sense the mounting inevitability of an extraordinary show-down with the chilling Phil Leone, and this sense only deepens with each installment, as more characters thrum to life, all equally naked in their wanting and fearing.

It is, without a doubt, a page-turner, but it is also a profound look at human fragility, the momentum of evil, and the bravery required for kindness. This book is both unusually kind and unusually brave. It is also an unusually good read, marrying the depth and beauty of literary fiction to the adrenaline rush of a thriller.
Cover for Billy Budd, Sailor
Billy Budd, Sailor
(An Inside Narrative)
Herman Melville
In Melville's most famous work not about a whale, a naïve and beloved sailor, impressed into the Royal Navy, falls victim to an officer's brutal envy. Mutinies, murder, naval battles, and a searing examination of the limits of human justice all packed into one rich yet surprisingly tight novella.
Why We Love It
There seemed no better pairing for I Was Here than Melville's final masterpiece. In both, evil not only preys on innocence, but seems to be provoked by it—it’s the sweet, trusting nature of Billy Budd, “The Handsome Sailor,” that brings out the “depravity” in his tormentor, the brutal Claggart, just as it’s Charlotte’s purity that thrills her predator Phil Leone. These startling novellas ask similar questions and even share some overlapping religious imagery, but lead us into very different moral territory. Taken together, they form a fascinating counterpoint.