by Jocelyn McClurg)
What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY's picks for book lovers include The Goldfinch, which just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and a new cultural history focused on child star Shirley Temple.
The Goldfinchby Donna Tartt; Little, Brown; fiction; 784 pp.
Young Theo Decker has his life upended when he and his mother are present at a terrorist bombing at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, which kills his mother and leaves him in possession of the rare Dutch painting that shares the novel's title.
Haunted, guilt-ridden and prone to self-endangerment — much of it centered on the painting, to which he clings as a symbol of his lost, beloved parent — Theo takes the reader on a fantastic journey.
It's full of moral confusion, hairpin plot turns and, best of all, a vivid, rather raucous cast of characters drawn with the fond yet gimlet-eyed insight of Charles Dickens, whose spirit hovers over this book like a guardian angel.
USA TODAY says: * * * * out of four. "Massively entertaining … required reading for anyone who loves great literature from this or any other century."
The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson; W.W. Norton; non-fiction; 320 pp.
Examines the impact of the child star not only on Hollywood, but on politics as well.
USA TODAY says: * * *. "Elucidating … a must-read."
Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism by Ron Suskind; Kingswell; non-fiction; 368 pp.
Suskind tells the touching story of how his autistic son learned to communicate with his family through Disney movies.
USA TODAY says: * * * *. "An amazing memoir … Eyes will tear. Hearts will cheer."
Dorothy Must Dieby Danielle Paige; HarperCollins; fiction; 464 pp.
Young-adult novel imagines a Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy is the despot of Emerald City, and another girl from Kansas is tapped to take out the pigtailed menace and her little dog, too.
USA TODAY says: * * * ½. "Fantastically flips the fantasy script on the wonderful land of Oz."
Living With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everythingby Barbara Ehrenreich; Twelve; non-fiction; 256 pp.
The author finds a journal she kept when she was 14 about mystical experiences she had at the time, leading her to recalibrate her life-long atheism.
USA TODAY says * * *. "A cool, clear-eyed narrative."
Contributing reviewers: Kevin Nance, Bill Desowitz, Don Oldenburg, Brian Truitt and Matt Damsker