By the Wayside by Anne Leigh Parrish

  I'm a sucker for short story collections, and By the Wayside hit the spot. Many of these stories are powerful slices of life. Some have a fable-like atmosphere; others, a dash of magical realism. This collection was a delight. Social commentary is cleverly woven in (especially in "Bree's Miracle" and "Patience," which allude to reproductive rights and Black Lives Matter, respectively). They pack a real punch, but it's subtle, never heavy-handed. And "How She Was Found" — this is a feminist love song, y'all. I loved the quiet little jabs. And oh my gosh, the ending had me scream-cheering! As in: By the Wayside grabbed me in a lot of the same ways Parrish's Our Love Could Light the World did: interesting characters, complex…

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Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol

Kinship of Clover is an engaging read. Based on its synopsis, though, I expected a much different book. The real stars here are Flo and her granddaughter, Zoe. I couldn't get enough of those two, especially Flo! Jeremy is supposed to be the protagonist, but he felt more like a secondary character (still important, but secondary). I have to be honest: There were some things in this novel that made me feel uncomfortable. The descriptions of skin color (especially combined with hair color) felt...off. The disability rep as far as Zoe herself goes was fine. But the thoughts of those around her were problematic and left unaddressed. (I actually winced a few times.) The intent may have been to give readers an honest…

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