Book Spotlight

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SEVERANCE by Ling Ma

Recommended by: Mary
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Severance follows Candace Chen, our nuanced and oft-facetious narrator, as she navigates the perils of city living before and after a debilitating disease wipes out the majority of the worlds' population. Known as Shen Fever, this disease is an airborne fungus that infects the consciousness of its victims and renders them functionally and intellectually obsolete, trapping them in a never-ending cycle of performing routine tasks even as they descend into various stages of malnutrition and decay.

The narration of the novel bounces around from Candace's childhood as a first generation Chinese immigrant, to her young adulthood, and, finally, to her means of survival after the Fever has wiped out the majority of the population.

Severance initiates conversations about race, class, immigration, oversea manufacturing, and the lucidity of millennial life. With Shen Fever acting as an allegory for mindless and rote existence, this novel embraces the beauty of life, of autonomy, and of conscious living.

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NORMAL PEOPLE by Sally Rooney

Recommended by: Carrie B.

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Normal People is a coming-of-age story set in Dublin, Ireland, featuring two authentically flawed young people. Rooney's stark prose does a masterful job illustrating their social and emotional awkwardness, youthful narcissism, and naiveté. The characters are not shielded from their worst impulses and suffer the consequences of their actions. The ending left this reader with nostalgic feelings for the days of heady dreams, mistakes, miscommunication, and those formative relationships that anchor themselves deep into the soul and continue to resonate throughout life.

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