April 2022 Staff Picks: Lyrical Reads

Are you familiar with lyrical fiction? In its simplest form, a lyrical read is a beautifully written book. More specifically though, a lyrical read is a novel with poetic prose that feels musical in its musical rhythm, sound, or structure. Its similar to a mash-up of fiction and poetry. If this concept is new to you, we hope you'll enjoy discovering this unique writing style.

Recommended by Nancy Bell, Readers' Advisory Librarian
What Is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
Whenever I think of lyrical writing, Helen Oyeyemi is the author who immediately comes to mind, and this short story collection is my favorite! This collection of nine short stories is centered on the idea of keys: can a key open or lock away something significant to the characters? Oyeyemi creates such immersive worlds and characters in so few pages with writing that made my heart ache. Honestly, I felt a little bit jarred when each story ended because I was so invested in the characters who I only met fewer than 30 pages ago. I also highly recommend her latest novel Peaces for more of the complex and moving prose that only Oyeyemi can write.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
The writing itself is what makes this book so good because at its core, it has a very simplistic plot: this is the story of Lotto and Mathilde’s marriage. Told in a split narrative—first from the perspective of Lotto, then from Mathilde’s—we read about their marriage, which you would think would be two versions of the same story with slightly different details, but instead is two completely different stories with some of the same details. Groff masterfully uses language to paint a complex picture of the obsessive nature of love. I’m personally a big fan of Lauren Groff’s writing and if you enjoy it too, you can also check out her short story collection Florida and her newest novel Matrix.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
The first novel by critically acclaimed poet Ocean Vuong. Little Dog writes a letter to his illiterate mother “to tell you everything you’ll never know.” It’s an incredibly moving novel as Little Dog writes his experiences as a refugee coming-of-age in America, living with the current and past traumas of the Vietnam War and his mother.  It’s emotionally brutal, and reads more like a memoir than fiction, especially as Little Dog’s circumstances closely resemble the author’s real life, but it’s told with language so beautiful you can almost forget how heartbreaking and shattering the subject matter really is.

Recommended by Maggie Mueller, Teen Services Librarian
Junk Boy by Tony Abbott
Junk. That’s what the kids at school call Bobby Lang. So Bobby tries to live under the radar, from the cruel kids at school and from his angry, neglectful father at home. Life grinds along quietly and hopelessly for Bobby until he meets Rachel, an artist dealing with her own “junk.” Together the two embark on journeys to clean up the messes that fill their lives, searching against all odds for hope and redemption. A hopeful and uplifting story about some serious topics. 

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo 
Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic and looks forward to her father’s visits every summer. But on the day his plane is supposed to land, the airport is full of crying people instead. Meanwhile in New York, Yahaira Rios has just learned her father has died in a plane crash on his way to the DR. As if Camino and Yahaira’s grief isn’t enough to process, they are about to learn about their Papi’s secrets…and of each other. This lyrical novel is beautiful, emotional, and intense, and will be hard to put down.   

Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley
When Liv’s brother Jonah accidentally shoots himself with his friend Clay’s father’s gun, both families become divided. Jonah is in a coma and only Liv seems to believe he’ll survive. To make things even more complicated, Liv’s mother is suing Clay’s family. Liv knows that Clay is nearly as broken as Jonah, and she refuses to turn her back on him, just as she refuses to give up on Jonah. As their entire community chooses sides, Liv feels the distance between them growing every day. This emotional read will leave you with major feelings. 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Fifteen-year-old Will gets into his apartment building’s elevator with a plan: to avenge his brother Shawn’s murder. As the elevator stops on every floor on its descent, someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never end if Will gets off the elevator. The ending of this story will shock you! 

Recommended by Kallie Schell, Children's Librarian
Chapter Books
Willodeen by Katherine Applegate
Eleven-year-old Willodeen adores creatures of all kinds, but her favorites are the most unlovable beasts in the land: strange beasts known as “screechers.” The villagers of Perchance call them pests, but Willodeen believes the animals serve a vital role in the complicated web of nature. 

When the annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, dwindles and no one knows why, Willodeen, armed with a magical birthday gift, speaks up for the animals she loves and vows to uncover this mystery. 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the forest witch, Xan, in the hopes that she won’t terrorize the town. Xan is kind and gentle though. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. One year she rescues Luna who after turning 13 must figure out how to handle the magical powers she was accidentally given before she loses control. 

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
Life is harsh in Chennai’s streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Fortunately, the girls find shelter--and friendship--on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city's trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom. 

Picture Books
Recommended by Victoria Sheehan, Library Assistant II
We are All Equal by P. Crumble
Children will delight in rhythm of this thought-provoking picture book. The cheerful and engaging animal illustrations compliment the text. 

Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
Silly actions and pictures with repetitive text are sure to bring laughter to the reader. Who can refuse that?

Someone Has to Build the Dream by Lisa Wheeler & Loren Long
Read the eBook on Overdrive
The book focuses on the collaborative efforts of many skills necessary around the start to end process of constructing large projects, such as a house, a bridge, decorative fountain, and wind turbines. The movement of the text and detailed illustrations support the meaning of labor.