Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.
I haven’t mentioned my cat here much for some reason, but I have a little whippersnapper who just turned one in March. She was actually caught when she was a couple months old at a public library in New Jersey, which is super fitting. Her name is Saffron, and while she is my little baby, she is also a hot mess. She’s not too mean, or anything, just very energetic and destructive.
Anyway, so the friend who caught her and brought her to me came over the day I wrote this and she was gone for like a whole two hours after he had left. I could not find her. My apartment is fairly small, and I looked in all her usual spots, but she was o u t. I’ve heard from a friend before how cats can teleport to another dimension, so I’m pretty sure she just popped into the cat dimension for a minute until the coast was clear.
In any case, now that she’s back, let’s get to the club!
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Nibbles and Sips
Burrata Pesto Toast by @breadbakebeyond
I’ve been feeling more domestic lately (I made bread from scratch the other day!), so I may just get a mortar and pestle to make this fresh pesto. I also may not, because…time, but I bet this would still be delicious with store bought pesto. Between the burrata and roasted garlic, I know this will have me acting up.
All you need is burrata, pesto (or pesto ingredients, if you’re fancy), lots of fresh garlic, a little fresh parmesan, bread, olive oil, salt, cherry tomatoes, and lemon (I think).
AAPI History month starts in a few days, so I wanted to highlight some new books out or coming out by AAPI authors that’ll be great for your club! In them, you’ll find adult coming-of-age novels, families caught up in investigations, Native Hawaiian poetry, and Vietnamese gothic horror.
Sea Change by Gina Chung
There’s a Goodreads review that kind of sums up the book and gave me a ki:
“i too am 1 octopus best friend away from a full mental breakdown.”
If that sounds odd, I will say that it is basically what this book is about. Ro is newly in her 30s and mentally stuck. She’s estranged from her mother, her boyfriend just left on a mission to Mars, and the only thing left of her father is Dolores, the giant octopus he brought back from an expedition before he died. As her best friend starts becoming distant because of wedding planning, Ro starts drowning herself in sharktinis (Mountain Dew plus gin and a lil jalapeño), and seeking companionship in Dolores whenever she’s at her dead-end mall aquarium job. But Dolores gets sold to a wealthy investor, and is set to live a new life in a private aquarium, and now suddenly Ro is confronting childhood traumas and trying to regain some connection to the rest of herself and the people around her.
Our Best Intentions by Vibhuti Jain
This one takes place in New York and follows Bobby Singh, an immigrant and single parent who is trying his best to achieve the American Dream. When his introverted daughter Angie finds one of her wealthy classmates stabbed in a football field, police think Chiara Thompkins, a Black runaway, is responsible. But we already know things aren’t always quite what they seem, and what gets revealed about the community, families, and even Angie’s own part in things is shocking.
‘Āina Hānau / Birth Land by Brandy Nālani McDougall
Native Hawaiian poet Brandy Nālani McDougall’s latest collection will be out this June. In it, her words flow from mountains to sea, from mother to child, using Ōlelo Hawai‘i and English in a way that feels effortless. She shows the fight for her native land, which is strongly tied to her fight for native bodies, as both are at risk for destruction as a result of American imperialism. She speaks out against the environmental crisis caused by tourism as she does the harmful medical system that disregards Native Hawaiian treatments in favor of apathetic care.
She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran
Gothic horror, family dynamics, and the horrors of colonialism all merge in this YA novel. When Jade Nguyen arrives in Vietnam, she realizes she’ll have to continue pretending to fit in. But as she tries to be the straight enough, Vietnamese enough daughter to her estranged father, she also starts noticing odd things about the French colonial house he’s restoring. And the five weeks she has to survive in the house may be too full of bug body parts, ghost brides, and paralysis for her to keep her sanity.
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I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_. You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new co-host Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.
Until next time,