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Take a look at the five and ten
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Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, she hates being condescended to by beautiful, popular Sloane and her latest handsome pre-med or pre-law boyfriend. But this Christmas is different. Sloane’s latest catch Lassiter is extremely interested in Grandma Elving’s boringly detailed memories of that seasonal job, seeing in them the hallmarks of a TFBM, or traumatic flashbulb memory. With Ori’s assistance, he begins to use the older woman in an experiment—one she eagerly agrees to. As Ori and Lassiter spend more time together, Ori’s feelings for him grow alongside the elusive mystery of Grandma’s past. From beloved New York Times bestselling, multiple-award-winning author Connie Willis comes another enchanting science fictional Christmas tale and screwball comedy, Take a Look at the Five and Ten. Readers in the need for a dose of Willis’s humor and heart will want to curl up with this novella for the holidays. - (Subterranean Pr)

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Hugo and Nebula Award–winner Willis (Blackout/All Clear) tests the boundaries of the science fiction genre with a grounded, realistic story that's sure to impress. Every year, Ori must weather exhausting holiday dinners with a strange amalgamation of not-quite family members, including her former stepfather's new stepdaughter, Sloan; Sloan's "boyfriend of the moment"; and the kind but dotty Grandma Elving, who loves reminiscing at length about the winters she spent working at Woolworth's as a young woman in the 1950s. Sloan's plus-one to this year's meal is a medical student named Lassiter who finds more than meets the eye in Grandma Elving's detailed memories: he believes the specificity of the elderly woman's recollections is indicative of a traumatic flash bulb memory, the topic of his current lab work. TFBMs are caused by events so traumatic that they force the mind to relive the surrounding moments in extreme detail. As Ori and Lassiter team up to uncover what singular moment might be causing this in Grandma Elving, their relationship blossoms into something more than teamwork—and they discover that Grandma Elving's flash bulb memory is more unusual than they ever imagined. This brisk holiday novella is quirky, heartwarming, and impossible to put down. Agent: Chris Lotts, the Lotts Agency. (Nov.)

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