While interviewing Barbara Bush for her book, “The Matriarch,” Susan Page asked the former first lady on two occasions if she still considered herself a Republican. Her answer, and how it changed, was a stunning acknowledgment.
USA TODAY, USA TODAY
In search of something good to read? USA TODAY’s Barbara VanDenburgh scopes out the shelves for this week’s hottest new book releases.
1. “The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty,”by Susan Page (Twelve, nonfiction, on sale April 2)
What it’s about: Washington Bureau Chief of USA TODAY Susan Page was given intimate access and conducted more than 100 interviews with Bush friends and family members, and the former First Lady herself in the final months of her life, to tell the life story of one of the defining women of American political history.
The buzz: Bush’s acerbic sense of humor seems to have been with her until the end. Her suggested title for Page’s biography? “The Fat Lady Sings Again.”
2. “Women Talking,” by Miriam Toews (Bloomsbury Publishing, fiction, on sale April 2)
What it’s about: Eight Mennonite women have long believed their bloodied and bruised bodies were the result of demons punishing them for their sins in the night. When they learn the truth – that they’ve been drugged and attacked by men in their community – they must make a choice between the only world they’ve ever known and escape.
The buzz: A starred review at Kirkus Reviews calls it an “exquisite critique of patriarchal culture” that is “stunningly original and altogether arresting.”
3. “American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race,” by Douglas Brinkley (Harper, nonfiction, on sale April 2)
What it’s about: Drawing on new primary source material and interviews, Award-winning historian Brinkley tells the thrilling story of the U.S. space race: the geopolitical tensions that spurred John F. Kennedy’s challenge, the breakneck technological revolutions that made it possible and the brilliant men and women who took man to the moon.
The buzz: A starred review from Kirkus Reviews calls it, “a highly engaging history not just for space-race enthusiasts but also students of Cold War politics.”
4. “Boy Swallows Universe,” by Trent Dalton (Harper, fiction, on sale April 2)
What it’s about: Set in 1980s Australia, Dalton’s splashy, profane and witty debut novel tells the coming-of-age story of a boy named Eli. His life is already complicated enough, what with his mom in jail, his mute brother and a heroin-dealing stepfather – and that’s before he teams up with an ex-con and falls in love.
The buzz: John Collee of the Sydney Morning Heraldsays it’s the best Australian novel he’s read in more than a decade and calls it “a rollicking ride, rich in philosophy, wit, truth and pathos.”
5. “The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage, and a Girl Saved by Bees,” by Meredith May (Park Row, nonfiction, on sale April 2)
What it’s about: May’s life was saved by honeybees. No, really. In this moving memoir, the author and journalist shares the story of how her troubled childhood in 1970s California was mended by an unbreakable bond with her grandfather, an eccentric beekeeper who invited her into the secret and soulful world of bees.
The buzz: Publishers Weekly says, “May’s chronicle of overcoming obstacles and forging ahead is moving and thoughtful.”
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