Elevate Difference

Reviews by Jo Ristow

Jo Ristow

Jo Ristow is livin' the dream in Seattle, WA as a reader, writer, hiker and full-time graduate student in the University of Washington's Speech and Hearing Sciences Department.

The Cosmopolitans

The Cosmopolitans by Nadia Kalman is the story of a family of Russian immigrants reconciling their illusions of America with the reality of life in Stamford, Connecticut. Osip and Stalina are the patriarchs of the Molochnik clan, holding sway over a house of three daughters—Milla, Yana, and Katya—and Pratik, an exchange student from Bangladesh.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

Heidi W. Durrow’s novel swirls out from and obsessively around the moment when a mother and her three children fall from the rooftop of a Chicago building. The narration crystalizes around this striking event, with multiple narrators adding their points of view to the interpretation of the mystery surrounding the plunge. Rachel, the sole survivor, struggles to adjust to the losses and changed that characterize her life after the fall.

The Fatigue Prescription: Four Steps to Renewing Your Energy, Health, and Life

In the style of many self-help books, Linda Hawes Clever, MD, is a product of and a subscriber to the program of renewal that she presents in her book. In the span of eighteen months, the physician endured the death of her parents, a home burglary, the loss of two jobs, and her husband’s cancer diagnosis.

Thin Kimono

Michael Earl Craig wants you to know something: he's glad he's not a poet. He is a Certified Journeyman Farrier who says, “Every now and then I wonder if I fucked up with this horseshoeing thing, but then I talk with my friends in academia and, well, I’m okay with my choices.” So yes, he does write poetry, and may even author a volume or two, but he’s not a poet. Thin Kimono is one of those volumes.

Seedlip and Sweet Apple: Poems

Seedlip and Sweet Apple is a poetry collection that blooms with the voice and life of Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the Christian sect deemed the Shakers for their prayerful and "ecstatic" dance. Her followers eschew marriage and reproduction, living in brotherly and sisterly communities devoted to harmony and God.

Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010

It’s truly a shame that poetry is so often thought of as inaccessible, hopelessly and purposefully snarled with obscurity and flabby with rococo intellectualism. Great poetry should work on many levels, and thus appeal to a wide audience from those who appreciate it for its pure beauty and those that delight the complexity of further analysis. Maxine Kumin is a poet whose entire oeuvre is rooted in what she knows: her farm in New Hampshire, where she works in the ground, keeps horses.


Here’s the truth: right up front I judged Picara by its cover. The cover, a photo of a young girl sitting on a rail guard with a sideways gaze and unreadable emotion on her face, conjured up one word in my mind: Angst. Well, two words: Teenage angst.

The Richest Season

The Richest Season is a familiar tale to any romance reader, occasional or obsessive: a wife and mother, disillusioned with her compressed, tepid worldview and identity, flees to an exotic locale in order to find herself. In this case, the wife and mother in question is Joanna Harrison. An empty nester with a distant corporate husband, she spontaneously decides to run away to a new life on Pawleys Island.


Mudbound, the first novel by Hillary Jordan, is all about tension. Race, family, marriage, class, identity are all buzzing, pressing in the narrative, and all of them feed into the greatest tension of all: the classic survival story of man versus nature. The first few pages describe two brothers scrambling to dig a makeshift grave ahead of an impending storm. This scene sets the tone and becomes, in many ways, a vivid metaphor for the entire narrative.

The Scattered Papers of Penelope: New & Selected Poems

The Scattered Papers of Penelope: New and Selected Poems presents compositions drawn from Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke's extensive oeuvre and includes five new pieces. A native of Greece, Anghelaki-Rooke was the winner of the Greek National Prize for Poetry and the Greek Academy’s Poetry Prize. Her poetry is lusty; corporeal; and rooted in flesh, color and tactile sensation. Verse and prose both vibrate with descriptions of a lush and living Greece.