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Publisher's Summary

"A fierce, big-hearted, unflinching debut" (Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere) novel about mothers and daughters, haves and have-nots, and the stark realities behind the American dream

A waitress at the Betsy Ross Diner, Elsie hopes her nickel-and-dime tips will add up to a new life. Then she meets Bashkim, who is at once both worldly and naïve, a married man who left Albania to chase his dreams - and wound up working as a line cook in Waterbury, Connecticut. Back when the brass mills were still open, this bustling factory town drew one wave of immigrants after another. Now it's the place they can't seem to leave. Elsie, herself the granddaughter of Lithuanian immigrants, falls in love quickly, but when she learns that she's pregnant, Elsie can't help wondering where Bashkim's heart really lies and what he'll do about the wife he left behind.

Seventeen years later, headstrong and independent Luljeta receives a rejection letter from NYU and her first-ever suspension from school on the same day. Instead of striking out on her own in Manhattan, she's stuck in Connecticut with her mother, Elsie - a fate she refuses to accept. Wondering if the key to her future is unlocking the secrets of the past, Lulu decides to find out what exactly her mother has been hiding about the father she never knew. As she soon discovers, the truth is closer than she ever imagined.

Told in equally gripping parallel narratives with biting wit and grace, Brass announces a fearless new voice with a timely, tender, and quintessentially American story.

©2018 Xhenet Aliu (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Full of humor, love, and empathy, Brass is a stunner of a debut, making us excited for all still to come from Aliu." ( Nylon)
"In mordant, biting prose, [Xhenet Aliu] interweaves the stories of a mother and a daughter living in a fading Connecticut town they both hopelessly long to escape from." ( HuffPost)
"With all-the-way-live characters, vigorous observation, combative dialogue, bravado metaphors, and ninja parsing of social class, immigrant struggles, bad behavior, and stubborn hope, Aliu has created a boldly witty and astute inquiry into the nature-versus-nurture debate, the inheritance of pain, and the dream of transcendence." ( Booklist)

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  • Overall
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Brilliant Writing!

What did you love best about Brass?

Written in parallel narratives of mother and daughter, and the daughter's story is written in second person. Sounds crazy, but it works. You won't have many opportunities to read first rate fiction in second person. We follow characters through bleak circumstance deftly described, immersed in the plight of Albania in the 90's and the reality of crumbling American dreams wading through broken promises. The pain and resilience needed to endure is etched into your mind.

What about Lauren Fortgang and Therese Plummer ’s performance did you like?

Narration was great.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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First Novel is a Success

For this being a firstvnovel, it was very well written and the narration was great

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Engaging

Clearly and passionately narrated. Fascinating story that holds your attention. Great story while learning a bit more of American history.