In this slender, academic little book — full of the statistics, graphs, opaque terms and circuitous, often repetitive language that only professional political scientists find interesting, or can even fully grasp — may lie answers to the questions native Southerners have been asking for years.

In characterizing this coming-of-age novel as “a perfect summer read,” the publisher underestimates its potential. Surely, it would be a satisfying book to enjoy in the bronzing sun and briny air; however, there is enough meat in its pages for a literary feast during the Christmas holidays or any other time of the year.

Jonathan Franzen dreams big. His newest novel, “Crossroads,” arrives with an audible thud on readers’ doorsteps and will easily hold those doors open at 580 pages. The themes are monumental — from the existence of God to our obligations to family to the morality of war. It’s also the first of a trilogy called, aspirationally, “The Key to All Mythologies.”

Jordan Salama, beginning his explorations as a student and bringing them to fruition in his stirring memoir, “Every Day the River Changes,” offers readers a different reality. It is one defined by endurance, self-sufficiency, resilience and a certain nobility of spirit.

How Eileen and her best friend Alice make the move from unfortunate babies to inhabitants of a beautiful world is the story of the novel, Rooney’s third. The change Eileen marvels at is in the direction away from millennial fear and toward the sturdy old standbys: love, marriage, parenthood, a terraced house with crayon on the wallpaper and Lego bricks on the floor.

With the return of familiar characters facing an engaging new case, two-time Edgar Award-winning author Nancy Springer deftly restores her plucky protagonist to the page, welcoming readers newly introduced to Enola via the 2020 hit Netflix film adaptation and rewarding readers familiar with the earlier six novels.

South Carolina author Allison Ward, a Navy reservist and helicopter pilot, has released a children’s book called “A Twist of Magic,” part of her “World Explorers” series. The book, illustrated by Rahmawati Yayu Ningsih, is meant for young children 3 to 8 years old.

Like “Fun Home,” Alison Bechdel’s magnificent graphic memoir, her new work also uses a familiar scaffolding to build a book that seems brand-new and slightly unfamiliar. “The Secret of Superhuman Strength” is a highly crafted literary work. Following its graphic predecessors, “Superhuman Strength” gets its mojo from Bechdel’s blend of low-cult form and high-cult subject matter.

All of Cusk’s work is set in the fragile space that opens up as an old, broken story gives way to a new one. Her characters are desperate to play more than a provisional role in the rearranged world and to sort the true from the false.

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