This year’s AABC awardees span generations, professions, and contributions to Barnard and the world
In the Orchard
by Eliza Minot ’91
Minot’s novel takes a deeply personal and moving dive into womanhood and maternal life through a day in the life of Maisie, a young wife and mother. Through Maisie, who dreams at night of a life without mortgages and credit-card debt but wakes to the usual real-world problems and responsibilities, Minot offers a perceptive and heartfelt exploration of motherhood, childhood, and love.
Take What You Need
by Idra Novey ’00
In this exhilarating novel set in the Allegheny Mountains of Appalachia, Leah traces the life and artwork of her stepmother after her death, discovering how much she had missed out on and forging a new self in the process. Take What You Need probes the perennial mystery of the people we love most and illuminates what can be built from what has been discarded.
The Half Moon
by Mary Beth Keane ’99
Keane, author of the bestselling Ask Again, Yes, centers her new work around Malcolm and Jess, a couple navigating the future as youth begins to feel like a distant memory. The tension between Jess’ desire to become a mother and Malcolm’s dream to own a bar confront the couple, raising questions about their love for each another amid blame, anger, and fading desire. Keane paints an intimate portrait that explores the disappointments and unexpected consolations of midlife.
Hang the Moon
by Jeannette Walls ’84
This novel depicts an indomitable young woman, Sallie Kincaid, in Virginia during Prohibition, who strives to reclaim her place in the family nine years after an accident resulted in her being cast out by her father. This action-packed book describes how Sallie comes into her own in the family business — bootlegging — revealing her sharp-witted, unflinching, and humorous character.
by Sarena Straus ’22
In a dystopian New York City, a powerful government machine known as ReInception is used to correct human behavior and prevent crime. When a Columbia University student is propelled into an anti-government rebel group, an underworld of corruption is exposed to her. While set 100 years in the future, Straus’ first novel explores relevant social and political issues in answering the question of whether peace is worth the price of lies.
The Trees of the Cross
by Gregory C. Bryda, professor of art history
Bryda’s latest, lavishly illustrated book explores the significance of wood and greenery within the religious art of late medieval Germany. His research into the local environment, culture, and economy and discussion of the influential artists Matthias Grünewald, known for the Isenheim Altarpiece, and renowned sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider offers a extensive examination of how wood — an object of religious devotion itself — functioned in art to bridge the spiritual and natural worlds.
by Laura Riley ’04
A social justice attorney and director of the Clinical Program at Berkeley Law, Riley offers an extensively researched history of homelessness in the U.S. She discusses the obstacles that have disproportionately affected the unhoused population and perpetuated the poverty cycle. By including perspectives from both legal professionals and people who have experienced homelessness, this book functions as a valuable resource for encouraging advocacy.
Rewriting Illness: A View of My Own
by Elizabeth Benedict ’76
In this unconventional memoir, novelist Benedict writes of her cancer diagnosis and hypochondria with exceptional storytelling skills, levity, and wisdom. The seasoned author recalls her initial fear of her illness and subsequent indulgence in such “natural remedies” as Tibetan mantras, shots of wheatgrass, and chocolate babka in prose both somber and funny by turns. Benedict investigates existential questions and, post-diagnosis, wonders “which fear is worse: the fear of knowing or the reality of knowing?”
The Loud Librarian
by Jenna Beatrice ’07
In her debut picture book, former lawyer and space camp counselor Beatrice tells the story of Penelope, an aspiring, friendly, and helpful student-librarian who has only one snag: a big voice. Instead of conforming, the librarian finds a way to stay true to herself and prove she’s perfect for the job. Mixed-media and collage illustrations by Erika Lynne Jones bring to life prominently diverse characters for a playful reading experience.
Four in Hand
by Alicia Mountain ’10
In her second book of verse, Mountain weaves together relevant social issues — identity politics, environmental degradation, late-stage capitalism — across four heroic crowns of sonnets featuring both traditional and experimental writing styles. Mountain’s writing doesn’t shy away from desire and the difficulties of personhood in a world saturated with injustice and pain.