O's 2011 Summer Reading List

What's your favorite flavor? No matter, because we've got 'em all: refreshing histories, nutty novels, and love stories that will make you melt.
Bright's Passage

Bright's Passage

208 pages; Dial
How does the past haunt—and bless us? This is the central question in the eloquent  and intensely moving historical novel, set in the post-World War I West. Henry Bright has just returned from Europe and is attempting to rebuild his life in the deep, isolated wilderness. When his young wife suddenly dies, he's forced to flee with his newborn son from a vengeful, violent neighbor.  Little does anyone know that Henry is following the advice of an unseen angel who tells him his baby is the Future King of Heaven. In lesser hands, this tale might turn in to a hokey, strange religious parable. Here, Ritter, moves seamlessly between scenes of the war where "the fields in between the trenches were wind-whipped ponds of bodies," scenes of Bright's childhood with his mother growing beans and tending rabbits, and scenes of his current flight through towns and forest, a massive wildfire following close behind. What results is a work of masterful, stunning prose in which past and present  inform each other—a story that reveals how we can make earthly "devils" out of men and (perhaps) invisible  "angels" out of our need for love and protection.
— Leigh Newman