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Book Notes: In the Lives of Puppets

Those of you who have had the pleasure of coming to our bookstore in person may have noticed squares of cream-colored cardstock crammed full of scribbled writing, fluttering about on the shelves and attached to books via bright orange strings. These are our recommendation cards. When we love a book so much that we need everyone to know about it, we write a recommendation card. This is what happened when I finished Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune, shortly followed by The House in the Cerulean Sea, both of which became two of my favorite reads from 2022. As his new book draws close to its release day (Tuesday, April 25), I knew I had to share what a delight it was with all of you.

In the Lives of Puppets is a futuristic Pinocchio retelling with robots. One of the things I love most about TJ Klune's adult novels is the eclectic mix of characters finding a home and a family in one another, characters who are real and quirky and heartfelt. In the Lives of Puppets is no different.

There is a house in the woods. In this house lives a family. An odd, pieced together sort of family, but a family nonetheless. Giovanni Lawson, inventor and android. Nurse Ratched, a caring nurse robot with a sadistic streak. Rambo, a small vacuum full of love and in need of attention. And Victor Lawson, Giovanni's human son. Their life in the woods is small, but good. Giovanni tinkers while Victor leads Nurse Ratched and Rambo on hunts through the Scrap Yards. It is on one of these hunts that they find HAP, an android in terrible condition. When Victor brings HAP home to be fixed up, he unknowingly kick-starts a chain of events that will dredge up Giovanni's dark past and lead to the destruction of their small world as he knows it. Populated with quirky characters and small kindnesses, this book left me itching to dive back into a reread.

With all of the important hallmarks of a proper Pinocchio retelling—the Blue Fairy, a circus (of sorts), a great big whale, and, of course, a wooden puppet—this book was both not what I was expecting and more. A warm hug in trying times, it is full of compassion, understanding, and forgiveness (while often being hilariously irreverent). In the Lives of Puppets comes out on April 25, 2023 and is available to preorder here. TJ Klune's other books are also available in paperback and are just as delightful. We will have copies of In the Lives of Puppets on its release day, and you can expect a recommendation card to show up shortly after. Happy reading!