Don’t Forget Me, Bro by John Michael Cummings

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You can’t, you shouldn’t, go home again.  Still you do, and must

John Michael Cummings’s recent novel is a heartbreaking and highly-charged portrait of one family’s struggle with abuse, mental illness, death and grief.  When narrator Mark Barr’s bother dies unexpectedly, he must return to his hometown of Alma, West Virginia after a decade of absence to honor Steve’s last wishes and bury him next to their grandfather.  But when Mark’s family cannot agree on how to handle Steve’s physical remains, emotions run high and each member of the family must face their personal demons before healing can begin.

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Thunderstruck by Elizabeth McCracken

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The soul is liquid, and slow to evaporate.  The body’s a bucket and liable to slosh.

A 2014 National Book Award finalist, Thunderstruck has certainly earned its place among competing titles.  Comprised of 9 short stories, Elizabeth McCracken’s collection is nothing short of haunting – and I’m not just saying that because we’re getting close to Halloween.  These unforgettable tales are mesmerizing and devastating as McCracken explores aspects of love, grief, family, death, companionship and loneliness.

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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

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You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them

Haruki Murakami’s thirteenth novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage follows a mid-30s engineer in Tokyo who reluctantly returns to a painful and traumatic memory, and, with the help of his girlfriend Sara, decides to pursue the truth behind his suffering.

As a teenager in the 90s, Tsukuru Tazaki developed a very close group of four friends – two men and two women – each with last names that represent a color, with the exception of Tsukuru, whose Japanese name does not indicate any particular color.  Thus, Tsukuru developed his nickname of “colorless.”  Of course the nickname is meant to be harmless enough, but Tsukuru deeply internalizes this idea of himself as colorless, and it greatly affects his self-perception as an adult.  Murakami writes:

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