The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 1, 2009

Book review: ARCs offer advanced look at upcoming titles

At library conferences, many publishers bring along and give away advance reader’s copies (ARCs) of books that are soon to be published. Every librarian I know loves ARCs as we get an advance look at what is coming out and what we may want to purchase for our libraries.

Below are reviews of some titles I picked up at the American Library Association conference in January. These will be available for checkout at the library upon publication.

‘While I’m Falling: A Novel’

By Laura Moriarty

Veronica, a junior at the University of Kansas, is taken aback when she learns her parents are divorcing. This unexpected event, in what she thought was her reasonably normal family, turns her world upside down. She falls behind in her coursework; wrecks the car of another student for whom she is to house sit for one weekend; and recklessly throws a party at said student’s townhouse where she almost sleeps with super-sexy Third Floor Clyde. This causes a breakup with her boyfriend, who had wanted her to move out of the dorms (Veronica hates her RA job and is about to lose it) and in with him.

When she thinks things cannot get any worse, her mother shows up at her dorm room with the family dog in tow needing a place to stay.

Veronica must figure out what to do about her upcoming final exams and the breakup with her boyfriend, whom she really does want to be with, and sort out her feelings about her parents’ divorce and her family in general.

Kansas author Laura Moriarty has written an excellent, insightful book on family relationships. The characters are realistically portrayed and the family dynamics and campus life believable and on the mark. Highly recommended. (Publication date: August 2009.)

‘Who is Mark Twain?’

By Mark Twain

Here are 24 short pieces by Missouri author Mark Twain that have never before been published.

Upon his death, Twain left letters, ramblings, false starts, opinion pieces and more. Some items he believed would offend and therefore did not want published during his lifetime; others he wrote just to write. He made it clear that these writings should not be published during his lifetime, but long after his death, thinking they would be of little interest to anyone by that time.

The stories, fables and opinions in this collection touch upon religion (“Conversations with Satan”), a review of Jane Austen’s work (“Jane Austen”) in which he finds fault with many of her characters, dentistry (“Happy Memories of a Dental Chair”) and much more.

Twain writes with insight, satire and humor that only Mark Twain can. (Publication date: April 2009.)

‘Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute’

By Jarrett J. Krosoczka

In this graphic novel written for younger readers, Hector, Dee and Terrance wonder what kind of life their school lunch ladies have outside of the cafeteria. Do they have families to care for? Do they have cats?

When the lunch ladies meet the new substitute teacher who is filling in for a teacher who has not missed a day of school in 20 years, they set out to find out the truth. These ladies are not your ordinary lunch ladies. Lunch Lady (no actual name is given) is really a secret agent and Betty loves to make gadgets — a spatula becomes a “spatu-copter” and the lunch tray is not regular tray, but a secret laptop.

As the lunch ladies work on discovering who this substitute teacher really is and his mission, the kids decide to follow the ladies after work to find out if they have a life outside of school. Little do they know what they will find upon entering the warehouse.

This is a very quick read perfect for beginning readers, especially those who like comic books or graphic novels. The black, white and yellow drawings enhance the minimal dialog. Highly recommended with hopes of more Lunch Lady adventures to come. (Publication date: July 2009.)

Susan Wray is the director of the Joplin Public Library.