THE TSARINA'S DAUGHTER
By Carolly Erickson (St. Martin's Press. 324 pages, $24.98)
In this clever and enchanting tale, we are introduced to the Grand Duchess Tatiana, Tsar Nicholas II's second eldest child and the most exotic of his four daughters (her photograph graces the cover). Erickson is not trying to rewrite history here -- there is no suggestion that Tatiana, 21, escaped the fate of the Imperial Family on that terrible night in July 1918. Rather, she has spun a sensitive and entirely believable story of the young woman's coming of age in the maelstrom of World War I and the ensuing collapse of the dynasty. It is a love story, to be sure, but what makes this book remarkable (and a compulsive read) is the author's superb understanding of the fascinating personalities of the Imperial Family and the Russian court. Highly recommended.
MICHAEL J. BONAFIELD, NIGHT NEWS EDITOR
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A PROBLEM?: BEING YOUNG AND ARAB IN AMERICA
By Moustafa Bayoumi (Penguin Press, 290 pages, $24.95)
How does it feel to be a problem? More than 100 years ago, African-American poet W.E.B. Du Bois asked that bitter, ironic question in "The Souls of Black Folk." Now Moustafa Bayoumi, an associate professor of English at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York, addresses that question on behalf of Arab-Americans. The answer, of course, is that the real problem is an amalgam of prejudice, ignorance and fear that young Arab and Muslim men and women, most of whom are no problem at all, face in post-9/11 America as the latest "communities of suspicion." It's both illuminating and disheartening to read of the obstacles and misconceptions that the young people whom Bayoumi shadows must deal with as they navigate daily life. But there's some small comfort in that the situation Bayoumi describes is not new -- other ethnic and religious groups have withstood and survived such bias before, and in the end, we have faith that we'll all get through this together, and come out stronger for it.
PAMELA MILLER, NIGHT METRO EDITOR