Do similar covers or titles catch your eye? Often, for me, it’s just two books at a time. The big payoff is when you come across three on a theme published close to one another, as in these recent stellar books — a memoir, a biography, and a novel — with their yellow-gloved covers.
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land (2019)
A college essay, “Confessions of a Housekeeper,” laid the groundwork for this memoir of young woman’s struggles as a single parent living in poverty while pursuing her education. Stephanie Land and her infant daughter lived in a homeless shelter in Mount Vernon, Washington, when she began cleaning houses. “More than any book in recent memory, Land nails the sheer terror that comes with being poor, the exhausting vigilance of knowing that any misstep or twist of fate will push you deeper into the hole,” said a review in the Boston Globe. If you enjoyed Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, this is a book for you (and Ehrenreich wrote the introduction to Maid). If you enjoy excellent writing and strong memoirs, like Educated by Tara Westover, this is a book for you. It’s currently in our Peak Picks collection, so stop by your SPL branch and pick it up.
The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein (2018)
In The Trauma Cleaner, Krasnostein profiles a woman who cleans up homes after natural — and unnatural — catastrophes and fatalities. Sandra Pankurst, founder of Specialized Trauma Cleaning Services, works for law enforcement, real estate agents, people who have inherited a mess (sometimes from hoarders, sometimes under other circumstances), and nonprofits that work with people who may have found it impossible to take care of themselves and their living space. Pankurst makes order of chaos in other people’s homes, and in her own life. Krasnostein won the Victorian Prize for Literature, Australia’s top literary prize, for The Trauma Cleaner, which had orange gloves on the cover for its Australian release.
Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin (2018)
Wrapping up our three-on-a-theme with this novel, originally published in 2015, but reissued in 2018 with this fantastic cover. Twenty-something Mona makes a living cleaning other people’s houses, filling her brain with observations about how people live. Off-the-clock, she distributes clean needles to addicts, and falls for one of the recipients. When that doesn’t quite work out, Mona heads to Santa Fe where there’s a new crop of people to scrutinize as well as realizations about her own life. The original cover of this book (from when it was first published in 2015 by Northwestern University Press) is intriguing in its own way, but when I saw this 2018 cover, from Scribner’s reprint edition, I couldn’t resist it. Others were noticing it, too, and the book is finally getting the attention it deserves. Kirkus Reviews named it one of the best books of 2018 (this confused me — not the designation of “best book,” but the fact that it really should have had that honor three years earlier) and LitHub called it out as one of the best covers of 2018. If the new cover is what brought attention to this gem of a novel, I’m all for it. And just look at how good it looks next to her 2019 book, Vacuum in the Dark, with the continuing adventures of Mona.
~ Posted by Linda J.