Best Books of 2021

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Atlas of the heart : mapping meaningful connection and the language of human experience

Atlas of the heart : mapping meaningful connection and the language of human experience

Brown, BreneĢ author
2021

"In Atlas of the Heart, Brown takes us on a journey through eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define whaconnectiont it means to be human. As she maps the necessary skills and an actionable framework for meaningful , she gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances--a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heartbreaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection"-- Provided by publisher.

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Beautiful world, where are you

Beautiful world, where are you

Rooney, Sally, author
2021

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he'd like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young--but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

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Between two kingdoms : a memoir of a life interrupted

Between two kingdoms : a memoir of a life interrupted

Jaouad, Suleika, author
2021

An Emmy Award-winning writer and activist describes the harrowing years she spent in early adulthood fighting leukemia and how she learned to live again while forging connections with other survivors of profound illness and suffering.

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Bewilderment : a novel

Bewilderment : a novel

Powers, Richard, 1957- author
2021

The astrobiologist Theo Byrne searches for life throughout the cosmos while single-handedly raising his unusual nine-year-old, Robin, following the death of his wife. Robin is a warm, kind boy who spends hours painting elaborate pictures of endangered animals. He's also about to be expelled from third grade for smashing his friend in the face. As his son grows more troubled, Theo hopes to keep him off psychoactive drugs. He learns of an experimental neurofeedback treatment to bolster Robin's emotional control, one that involves training the boy on the recorded patterns of his mother's brain...

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Fight night

Fight night

Toews, Miriam, 1964- author
2021

When Swiv is expelled from school, Grandma takes on the role of teacher and gives her the task of writing to Swiv's absent father about life in the household during the last trimester of the pregnancy. In turn, Swiv gives Grandma an assignment: to write a letter to "Gord," her unborn grandchild (and Swiv's soon-to-be brother or sister). "You're a small thing," Grandma writes to Gord, "and you must learn to fight." As Swiv records her thoughts and observations, Fight Night unspools the pain, love, laughter, and above all, will to live a good life across three generations of women in a close-knit family.

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The four winds

The four winds

Hannah, Kristin, author
2021

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli-like so many of her neighbors-must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life.

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How beautiful we were : a novel

How beautiful we were : a novel

Mbue, Imbolo, author
2021

'We should have known the end was near.' So begins Imbolo Mbue's exquisite and devastating novel How Beautiful We Were. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by a large and powerful American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of clean up and financial reparations to the villagers are made--and ignored. The country's government, led by a corrupt, brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interest. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight the American corporation. Doing so will come at a steep price. Told through multiple perspectives and centered around a fierce young girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, Joy of the Oppressed is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghosts of colonialism, comes up against one village's quest for justice--and a young woman's willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people's freedom.

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The Paper Palace : a novel

The Paper Palace : a novel

Cowley Heller, Miranda, author
2021

It is a perfect July morning, and Elle, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of three, awakens at "The Paper Palace"-- the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different, because last night Elle and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had sex with each other for the first time, all while their spouses chatted away inside. Now, over the next 24 hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her genuinely beloved husband, Peter, and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn't forever changed the course of their lives.

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The rose code

The rose code

Quinn, Kate, author
2021

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. 1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, a mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together.

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The strangers : a novel

The strangers : a novel

Vermette, Katherena, 1977- author
2021

Cedar has nearly forgotten what her family looks like. Phoenix has nearly forgotten what freedom feels like. And Elsie has nearly given up hope. Nearly. After time spent in foster homes, Cedar goes to live with her estranged father. Between flickering moments of warmth and support, the women diverge and reconnect, fighting to survive in a fractured system that pretends to offer success but expects them to fail. Facing the distinct blade of racism from those they trusted most, they urge one another to move through the darkness, all the while wondering if they'll ever emerge safely on the other side.

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Unreconciled : family, truth, and Indigenous resistance

Unreconciled : family, truth, and Indigenous resistance

Wente, Jesse, author
2021

Jesse Wente remembers the exact moment he realized that he was a certain kind of Indian--a stereotypical cartoon Indian. As the child of an American father and an Anishinaabe mother, Wente grew up in Toronto with frequent visits to the reserve where his maternal relations lived. By exploring his family's history, including his grandmother's experience in residential school, and citing his own frequent incidents of racial profiling by police who'd stop him on the streets, Wente unpacks the discrepancies between his personal identity and how non-Indigenous people view him.

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What happened to you? : conversations on trauma, resilience, and healing

What happened to you? : conversations on trauma, resilience, and healing

Perry, Bruce Duncan, 1955- author
2021

Have you ever wondered 'Why did I do that?' or 'Why can't I just control my behavior?' Others may judge our reactions and think, 'What's wrong with that person?' When questioning our emotions, it's easy to place the blame on ourselves, holding ourselves and those around us to an impossible standard. It's time we started asking a different question. Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and ... brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking 'What's wrong with you?' to 'What happened to you?' Our earliest experiences shape our lives far down the road, and [this book] provides ... scientific and emotional insights into the behavioral patterns so many of us struggle to understand.

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