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MEMBER PICK! Synopsis of the book: “In The Third Daughter, Talia Carner ably illuminates a little-known piece of history: the sex trafficking of young women from Russia to South America in the late 19th century. Thoroughly researched and vividly rendered, this is an important and unforgettable story of exploitation and empowerment that will leave you both shaken and inspired.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris The turn of the 20th century finds fourteen-year-old Batya in the Russian countryside, fleeing with her family endless pogroms. Desperate, her father leaps at the opportunity to marry Batya to a worldly, wealthy stranger who can guarantee his daughter an easy life and passage to America. Feeling like a princess in a fairytale, Batya leaves her old life behind as she is whisked away to a new world. But soon she discovers that she’s entered a waking nightmare. Her new “husband” does indeed bring her to America: Buenos Aires, a vibrant, growing city in which prostitution is not only legal but deeply embedded in the culture. And now Batya is one of thousands of women tricked and sold into a brothel. As the years pass, Batya forms deep bonds with her “sisters” in the house as well as some men who are both kind and cruel. Through it all, she holds onto one dream: to bring her family to America, where they will be safe from the anti-Semitism that plagues Russia. Just as Batya is becoming a known tango dancer, she gets an unexpected but dangerous opportunity—to help bring down the criminal network that has enslaved so many young women and has been instrumental in developing Buenos Aires into a major metropolis. A powerful story of finding courage in the face of danger, and hope in the face of despair, The Third Daughter brings to life a dark period of Jewish history and gives a voice to victims whose truth deserves to finally be told.
A riveting debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossible standards of beauty, after-hours room salons catering to wealthy men, ruthless social hierarchies, and K-pop mania. Kyuri is an achingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a Seoul “room salon,” an exclusive underground bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake threatens her livelihood. Kyuri’s roommate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Returning to Korea after college, she finds herself in a precarious relationship with the heir to one of the country’s biggest conglomerates. Down the hall in their building lives Ara, a hairstylist whose two preoccupations sustain her: an obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that she hopes will change her life. And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to have a baby that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise in Korea’s brutal economy. Together, their stories tell a gripping tale at once unfamiliar and unmistakably universal, in which their tentative friendships may turn out to be the thing that ultimately saves them.
Note: This novel contains material that may be disturbing to some readers. Reader discretion is strongly advised. From Goodreads: Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer. 2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher. 2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed? Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.