Girls in Trucks

Sarah Walters was born into the prim and proper debutante class of South Carolina, but that's as close as she ever comes to white-gloved gentility. The heroine of Katie Crouch's debut novel, Girls in Trucks, is a salty-tongued rebel who slips the bonds of a girlhood of dance lessons to find freedom in the cold and baffling North. There, Sarah loses her accent, her values, and, in sometimes sad and often spectacular fashion, her way in life. She had planned on greatness and instead has to settle for survival. Here's Sarah, halfway through the book, self-aware and still defiant: "I have made many mistakes in my life so far, the biggest of which, according to my mother, was leaving the South. Never mind the fact that I managed to spend three good years pining after a cruel man, that I have let a once promising career in journalism go, that I drink too much and have come to like my pot. I wouldn't say that I'm an addict, but try and take it away, and swear to God, I'll bite you like a snake." The story caroms from man to man and job to job, as Sarah struggles to make sense of her life. Just as it seems Crouch has written herself into a corner, she'll switch scenes, push forward or backward in time, and give herself a clean slate. It's a tricky little dance, and unlike our heroine, Crouch is up to it. From start to finish, she makes smart choices that keep the chick from derailing this often lovely bit of lit.

July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.