4 BOOKS We Loved – May 2015

10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key To Health and Happiness by Cara Hoffman (Harper) Science writer and zoologist Alanna Collen explores how our microbes – particularly in our guts – interact with our bodies after a course of antibiotics for a rare tropical disease knocks her body functions completely out of whack. Collen merges a compelling writing style with good science clearly explained, which makes for a very refreshing book on health. Even if you have never considered the role of your gut microbes on your general well-being, Collen’s book will make you finally give that plethora of hangers on a second thought.—Jen Karsbaek

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway (Knopf) Nick Harkaway’s novels are always strange and wonderful; Tigerman is no exception. Set on the tiny island of Mancreu, formerly a British colony, the story centers on an aging British Army sergeant awaiting retirement and his unlikely friendship with a young boy from the island. As the two are caught up in a political plot that seems far too large for the small island on which they live, Tigerman reveals itself to be a tale of wit and wonder, full of sly humor and important lessons on life, friendship, and fighting for a cause you believe in.—Kerry McHugh

Where Women Are Kings by Christine Watson (Other Press) This powerful, stunningly real story is about a 7-year-old boy who has been difficult to place in a permanent foster home. Elijah knows two important things: his mama loves him and a wizard lives inside him. He also knows that if he ever tells anyone about the wizard, he will never see his mama again. But the wizard is so hard to keep inside, and when it crawls out his nose or mouth, it does bad things. Where Women Are Kings is both a simple story of a little boy who needs love and understanding and a complex look at cultural differences, love, family, social services, child abuse, and mental illness. An achingly tender and horrifically realistic novel.—Candace B. Levy

Things You Won’t Say by Sarah Pekkanen (Washington Square Press) Pekkanen’s books have always been gut-wrenching, but with Things You Won’t Say she takes on the very controversial topic of officer-involved shootings. Pekkanen focuses on the adult female family members of officer Mike Anderson as Mike first sees his partner shot and then shoots a young man who seems not to have had a gun, despite Mike’s insistence that he saw one. This is a fraught topic in America these days, but Pekkanen approaches it with a combination of delicacy and confidence that makes Things You Won’t Say both honest and approachable. The reader becomes immersed in the lives of these women, particularly Mike’s wife Jamie, and the way their lives and community falls apart after Mike’s tragic shooting.—Jen Karsbaek