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February's Midwest Connection Picks

book coverBlack Sunday
Tola Rotimi Abraham

Twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike are enjoying a relatively comfortable life in Lagos in 1996. Then their mother loses her job due to political strife, and the family, facing poverty, becomes drawn into the New Church, an institution led by a charismatic pastor who is not shy about worshipping earthly wealth.

Soon Bibike and Ariyike’s father wagers the family home on a “sure bet” that evaporates like smoke. As their parents’ marriage collapses in the aftermath of this gamble, the twin sisters and their two younger siblings, Andrew and Peter, are thrust into the reluctant care of their traditional Yoruba grandmother. Inseparable while they had their parents to care for them, the twins’ paths diverge once the household shatters. Each girl is left to locate, guard, and hone her own fragile source of power. ​

Written with astonishing intimacy and wry attention to the fickleness of fate, Tola Rotimi Abraham’s Black Sunday takes us into the chaotic heart of family life, tracing a line from the euphoria of kinship to the devastation of estrangement.

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Everywhere You Don't Belong
Gabriel Bump

Everywhere You Don’t Belong is an alternately witty and heartbreaking debut novel about a young black man born on the South Side of Chicago. Raised by his civil rights-era grandmother, Claude McKay Love copes with abandonment, violence, riots, failed love, and societal pressures—and discovers how hard it is to leave his hometown behind.

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Debra Landwehr Engle

Twenty begins as 55-year-old Meg is reeling from a series of calamities, including divorce and the death of her mother. Just as she hits an all-time low, something magical happens that allows her to begin rediscovering the love, friendship and joy that’s been missing from her life. Both a heartwarming story and a catalyst for inspiration, Twenty fearlessly tackles depression, grief and regret.


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Martin McLean, Middle School Queen
Alyssa Zaczek

Martin McLean has always been surrounded by people who can express themselves, but he’s not great at speaking up unless he’s at a Mathletes competition. Then his Tío Billy introduces him to the world of drag, inspiring Martin to create a fabulous drag queen alter ego. When Martin discovers that his first-ever drag show is the same night as an important Mathletes tournament, he realizes that he can only pull off both appearances by revealing his true self to his friends—and channeling his inner drag superstar.

Some favorite past Midwest Picks

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