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'Children of the Stone' a moving look at music's power in Palestine

A shipping container bound for Palestine holds cargo worth half a million dollars — not military hardware or food aid but musical instruments. This is the gripping material of Sandy Tolan's moving and diligently told new book, "Children of the Stone." Whereas his 2006 book, "The Lemon Tree," told...

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  • Olen Steinhauer's new novel reunites spies with a shared history
    Olen Steinhauer's new novel reunites spies with a shared history

    Olen Steinhauer openly acknowledges Christopher Reid's poem "The Song of Lunch" — or rather the PBS Masterpiece dramatization of it — as inspiration for his latest spy puzzler. The TV version centers on two former lovers, played by Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, having a boozy lunch 15 years after...

  • Two children's books about middle schoolers between cultures
    Two children's books about middle schoolers between cultures

    A recent report from the University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Children's Book Center reveals the persistence of a diversity gap in literature for children and adolescents. In 2014, only 112 books for young people featured Asian/Pacific and Asian/Pacific American characters — an improvement from...

  • 'A Little Life' a darkly beautiful tale of love and friendship
    'A Little Life' a darkly beautiful tale of love and friendship

    I've read a lot of emotionally taxing books in my time, but "A Little Life," Hanya Yanagihara's follow-up to 2013's brilliant, harrowing "The People in the Trees," is the only one I've read as an adult that's left me sobbing. I became so invested in the characters and their lives that I almost...

  • 'Terms of Service' a critique of modern life built on social media
    'Terms of Service' a critique of modern life built on social media

    Jacob Silverman, by his own admission, has a "jaundiced eye." His first book, "Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection," proves this self-appraisal all too well. "Terms of Service" is a bleak, unsparing and discomfiting critique of a modern life built around Facebook...

  • Not Just for Kids: Indoor pleasures in 'In,' 'Home' and 'Small Person'
    Not Just for Kids: Indoor pleasures in 'In,' 'Home' and 'Small Person'

    We grown-ups can be a house-proud lot, with our real estate obsessions and home improvement preoccupations — but children, with their treasured possessions, random collections and ability to conjure expansive worlds within the confines of their rooms, may be the most devoted nesters of all. A handful...

  • Barry Gifford's 'The Up-Down' salutes legacy of Sailor and Lula
    Barry Gifford's 'The Up-Down' salutes legacy of Sailor and Lula

    "You move me, Sailor, you really do. You mark me the deepest." If you were a filmgoer in the '90s, those words, spoken by Lula Pace Fortune (Laura Dern) to Sailor Ripley (Nicholas Cage) undoubtedly left an impression on you too.

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