Leela Corman’s debut graphic novel, Unterzakhn ($24.95)—Yiddish for “underwear”—tells the story of two sisters in early 20th-century New York. The children of immigrants from the Russian shtetl, twins Esther and Fanya observe their community on the Lower East Side as children, grow into it as young women, and find disparate—if equally subversive—paths as adults. Subtly feminist and thoroughly fascinating, Corman’s story is captured in her detailed black-and-white drawings, revealing the complexity of life among working-class women and the harsh realities of attempting to make it in the “land of opportunity.” — K.M.
Louise Krug thought she’d have the perfect life. Krug, a pretty 22-year-old Kansas journalist prepping for a move to California with her handsome French boyfriend, found her world imploding after a ruptured cavernous angioma—a brain bleed, in layman’s terms—forces her to undergo an emergency craniotomy. What followed, as chronicled in Krug’s compelling memoir Louise: Amended ($14), is the story of a woman who—even as she endured extensive rehabilitation for among other afflictions, double vision and facial paralysis—also faced an existence in which her usual crutch, physical beauty, had suddenly disappeared. Krug’s book is at once darkly funny and touching as she details what it was like to rely on others for what once seemed the simplest of tasks, all while trying to figure out the future. — R.L.
It’s rare for nearly 50 writers to collaborate on a project, let alone a book that reads so smoothly, but the contributors to Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of the Action That Changed America ($15) are the real thing; present as the movement we now know as Occupy Wall Street began to coalesce at Zuccotti Park in New York City. They took notes and conducted interviews, creating this clear narrative of how the general assembly formed and the occupation grew, as well as detailing the discussions within the movement. With protests and actions bound to resume as the weather improves, the publication of this well-written little book is a great place to bone up on the basics in time for some serious occupation. All proceeds are donated to Occupy Wall Street. www.orbooks.com/catalog/ows. — K.M.
In Anna Perera’s new young adult novel, The Glass Collector, 15-year-old Aaron’s life is, literally, down in the dumps. Living in Cairo, his job is to rummage through trash piles in search of broken glass suitable for resale. That grim existence turns even more nightmarish when the teenager’s family kicks him out of the house, forcing Aaron to find a new way to get by. His alternatives aren’t very promising: steal, beg—or worse. Here, Perera sketches out a world that, while perhaps unfamiliar to Western teens, should still resonate with its universal themes of self-identity, perseverance, pride and how a complex labyrinth of circumstance and choice can shape one’s future. — R.L.