1. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
Fans of Brit Bennett’s The Mothers will want to check out Anissa Gray’s breakthrough novel about a family in turmoil and the complex relationships of mothers and daughters. When the eldest daughter of the Butler family is imprisoned for fraud and embezzlement, it’s up to her sisters to hold the family together and care for her two daughters. This heart-wrenching story of love, family, and forgiveness stayed with us long after the last page.
2. My Lovely Wife
Samantha Downing’s debut thriller strikes just the right twisted note for fans of Caroline Kepnes’s You and Fiona Barton’s The Widow. A year ago, a couple abducted a young woman in order to spice up their marriage — now the woman’s body has been found and a serial killer blamed for her murder. You’ll love the first-person narration in this tale that Publishers Weekly says “unfolds slowly and sinuously.”
3. The Water Cure
A dreamlike, hypnotic novel, sometimes lovely but more often terrifying, in which we meet three sisters raised to believe that their bodies are both vulnerable and dangerous—but not so dangerous as the world beyond their small island, and not half so dangerous as the bodies of men. But when men from that outside world do intrude, as of course they must in stories like these, the sisters begin to figure out the truth—of desire, of safety of their past, of their parents—for themselves.
4. Sugar Run
There’s an awful lot of talk about the underrepresentation of rural (or suburban, or urban) working class life in the higher echelons of American literary culture. And while to some extent that might be true, the stories are there, as are the writers, we just need to pay attention. To wit, Mesha Maren’s debut novel, about a young woman’s return to rural West Virginia after 18 years in prison, deserves your attention.
5. Late In The Day
Hadley’s sixth novel explores the relationships between two couples (and longtime friends) as they mourn the death of one of their own. The novel moves between past and present to trace the characters’ relationships over time, as well as the destruction wrought by grief. I love a well-drawn portrayal of complex group dynamics, so I’m looking forward to this one for when I’m in the mood for some emotional intensity.
6. Hands Up!
Sara Luce Look, Co-owner and Book Buyer at Charis Books & More in Atlanta, chose debut book Hands Up! by children’s literature scholar Breanna J. McDaniel. Look told Forbes, “Breanna is an academic who researches representations of black children in picture books and this beautifully illustrated book for 4-8 year olds takes the phrase ‘hands up’ through everyday moments in a young Black girl’s life. Her tiny baby hands are ‘hands up’ to greet the sun and later when she is older, she is joining together ‘hands up’ with her family at a protest march. Our customers have been waiting for a book like this.”
7. Last Night In Nuuk
This remarkable debut novel took Scandinavia by storm with its vivid up-to-date portrait of life in Greenland. Skipping between five characters, from a woman who has just sworn off men to another coming out the other side of gender reassignment surgery, it assembles itself before your eyes, just as its characters do, caught, as often so many of us are, between what we are and what we are supposed to be. Emails and Facebook messages mix with conventional narration, chronicles of parties and their gritty aftermath, producing a jittery, tense texture that feels a lot more like modern life, and yet you emerge with a strong feeling that the novel of the future might look a lot like this one because of the depths of character it produces with such energy and charm.
8. The Gilded Wolves
In this elegant and thrilling historical young adult novel, 1889’s Paris is brought to life in all of its glittering glamour. Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is one of the best when it comes to treasure hunting and when he promises the Order of Babel that he’ll find him the ancient artifact he so desperately needs, he begins his most important adventure yet. Meeting a cast of unique characters along the way, Séverin and his crew will see the true depths of Paris – both the good and the evil.