Pulse: 60-Second Critic: Fiction: Trading Dreams at Midnight

Trading Dreams at Midnight By Diane McKinney-Whetstone (HarperCollins; $24.95)

That McKinney-Whetstone’s favorite themes — the complexities of families, bonds between women, loss, healing — have been fodder for writers since the beginning of time (or, at very least, since the beginning of Oprah’s Book Club) doesn’t make the Philly-based author’s fifth novel any less compelling. Her story about Neena, a 30-something woman obsessed with the manic mother who abandoned her in Philadelphia, and Nan, the embattled, stoic grandmother who raised her, offers up both wrenching and sweet truths that feel familiar to any reader, in a series of uncloying, unpredictable plotlines. The result is a book that feels honest, filled with people you want to keep reading about. Grade: A