Word’s pick: “The Girls” by Emma Cline
This enthralling, whip-smart novel evokes the terror of the Manson Family murders. While not an exact retelling of those events, the book gets into the minds of women — girls, really — who could have committed the heinous crime. Cline captures the feelings of being a young, impressionable girl in any era — the overwhelming need for love and acceptance that sends them into the arms of anybody willing to be nice for a while. This book had me at page one and kept me on edge with every sentence. What a knockout of a debut novel.
— Katelyn Phillips, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbrooklyn.com].
Community Bookstore’s pick: “The Last Samurai” by Helen DeWitt
Helen DeWitt’s jarringly brilliant debut novel, “The Last Samurai,” returns this summer with a long-overdue reprint from New Directions. Don’t let its length deter you — DeWitt’s big, ambitious book about a single mother raising a ridiculously precocious son manages to pack in lessons on Greek, Japanese, and Norwegian alongside meditations on genius and madness and a careful depiction of Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai,” resulting in one of the most addictively readable, funny, and profound novels of the new century.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Donuts” by Jordan Ferguson
It has been ten years since hip-hop visionary J. Dilla passed away at the age of 32. Legend has it that Dill finalized his landmark album “Donuts” on his death bed. Regardless of whether that’s true, the mythology adds to the album’s mystique. This slim volume about J. Dilla, part of a series of reflections on music artists, reflects the beauty of life in the sadness of death, and the enduring spirit that he managed to mix into his last batch of music.
— Geo Ong, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].