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Books: Feb. 24, 2012

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The Foremost Good Fortune
Susan Conley
When she and her family traded their house in Maine for a high-rise apartment in Beijing, Conley was ready for culture shock. But she wasn’t ready to experience it through the lens of her own cancer diagnosis. A-

The Story of Beautiful Girl
Rachel Simon
In Simon’s novel, a deaf black man and a seemingly mute white woman clutching their baby escape from the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded on a howling night in 1968. They are soon separated from each other — and spend the next 40 years struggling to reunite. B+

The Uncoupling
Meg Wolitzer
The suburban bedrooms of Stellar Plains, N.J., morph into battlefields when the local women are bewitched into chastity by a high school production of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. B

Unfamiliar Fishes
Sarah Vowell
This slender yet exhaustive study of our country’s graceless appropriation of Hawaii is told through the lives of some oft-forgotten natives, including a songwriting queen and an idol-burning king. B