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Book Bites: 11 March

Published in the Sunday Times

The Twinkling of an Eye: A Mother’s Journey
Sue Brown, Human & Rousseau, R230

The Browns are an ordinary family. They have two lovely children (Meg and Craig), good friends, and a home that welcomed others. They also have a ghastly cuckoo in the nest, a life-threatening tumour that was discovered in Craig’s brain when he was 12. His mother wrote this book after his death. The story is horrifyingly accurate. She spares no one in the telling of it. This is an unflinching book about a cruel death, but one that puts living at the centre of death. Jennifer Crocker @malleson30

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down
Anne Valente, William Morrow, R250

Valente takes you down the bloodied school corridor, under the desks in the classrooms, to the back of stacks in the library as Caleb Raynor guns down 28 of his fellow students, three teachers, three staff members and one principal. This is on October 8 2003 at 9:04am. This is fiction but seems very real (none of the teachers have guns). The part that does not feel real is that this is not the only tragedy to face the small town in St Louis. Three days after the shooting, the houses of the families of the victims start burning down. Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

The Wanderers
Meg Howrey, Simon & Schuster, R220

Three Nasa astronauts are chosen for a mission to Mars which will make them the first people on the Red Planet. Helen is a veteran astronaut with a complicated relationship with her daughter, Sergei is on the verge of divorce and Yoshi is trying to reach out to his distant wife. Why are they doing it? How will their significant others cope with their absence? A nuanced tale of adventure, terror and the complex emotional challenges of journeying to the outer limits as well as within. Nikki Temkin @NikkiTemkin

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