Books: 737

Dreaming Home
Lucian Childs

One chance instant can reverberate through decades, for good or ill. Cruel or kind may hinge on the flip of a coin. Here, 12-year-old Rachel and her pal find Kyle, Rachel’s 15-year-old brother, drawing from a gay porno magazine. Teasing might have done for some sibs, but Rachel and Kyle are being raised on a Texas army base by a harsh former Vietnam P.O.W. and conservative Christian. When Rachel snitches, Kyle is beaten and banished into conversion therapy. The next portions of the novel deal with Kyle, first in his 20s, and continuing on into his 50s as he pursues his architectural career, as much in efforts of creating a home as for financial gain. At the close, he tenuously reconnects with sister Rachel. Who fared better?

The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet
Jeff Goodell
Little, Brown and Co.

Gay or straight, Red or Blue, believer, agnostic, or atheist: your status matters not to the accelerating electron. Heat is impartial, ubiquitous, and rising globally, faster even than pessimists have projected. Everything is affected–survival (or not) of Polar Bears, of coastal cities, of the very foods on which we depend. Every living thing has its “Goldilocks” or habitable zone above which (or below, not the case here) it cannot exist. Note: If you’re fine with your status quo, but some living entity you depend on isn’t, then you’re not fine. Goodell, author of The Water Will Come, writes in an accessible, anecdotal voice, backed with hands-on research, interviews, scientific explanations of how heat-related events cascade, traveling the globe to report bad news first-hand. Listen.

Blight: Fungi and the Coming Pandemic
Emily Monosson
W.W. Norton

Fungi’s genetic material, like ours, lies within their cell nucleus–making targeting them without harming the human patient difficult. Fungi range from helpful to lethal. The latter all but eradicated the American chestnut, and harm is accelerating:  Bat species decimated, whitebark pines now ghost skeletons. Healthy, we were generally passed over–too hot–but as they adjust to warmer climates, we’re on the menu. Don’t care about bats? Consider the literal tons of biting, crop-destroying insects they devour. Each species lost is a piece in the mosaic of viable human life. Creatures eat or are eaten along the chain fueling our lives. Ignore the loss of a piece, help fungi spread through travel, rising heat, entrench those fungi that survive without hosts; they’re here forever.

The Way Life Should Be
William Dameron
Little Brown

If you don’t get marriage right the first time, carry on. Thomas and Matt, somewhat beyond first blush of youth, have divorced their wives and are now blissfully re-wedded–to each other, and looking forward to relaxing in a summer cottage on the southern coast of Maine. Ah, is this not happiness… For a nano-moment in paradise. But they have children with capital-P problems, exes with tenuous, yet iron-binding chains, and elderly and declining parents, all of whom need the couple’s nearly full-time attention. Marriages come and go, but Fatherhood lasts, if not forever, at least until your own descent into dissolution. Their two-bedroom getaway must expand to encompass others. And the “get-away”? In Thomas’s case, away goes positively hallucinogenic. A sweet, reassuring read, nevertheless.

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