THE SECOND SEASON, Emily Adrian. In a novel evoking the career of Doris Burke, a successful NBA announcer makes a startling personal discovery during an important game, forcing her to reconsider her future. This sensitive, warm, and funny book is one of my favorites of 2021. “Even the sports-averse will be caught up in the drama,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.
A SONG EVERLASTING, Ha Jin. A musician faces spiraling consequences when he performs at a party for Taiwanese secessionists. “Impressive and touching,” writes the Boston Globe. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
VIRTUE, Hermione Hoby. A young intern at a NYC magazine becomes infatuated with a glamorous couple, but when tragedy strikes, he learns the consequences of his obsession with them. “A delicious meditation on morality, nostalgia, and art,” writes Booklist. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
THE LIABILITY OF LOVE, Susan Schoenberger. When her rapist grows up to be a famous movie star, a woman is left to grapple with the aftermath of the incident on her life and relationships. In a starred review, Kirkus calls it “a keenly observed, compassionate, and absorbing work.” Bookshop.
THE FINAL GIRL SUPPORT GROUP, Grady Hendrix. Ten years after surviving a massacre, a “final girl” discovers that someone is targeting the members of her final girl support group. “The result is a wonderfully suspenseful and darkly comic novel that cleverly subverts popular culture. Horror fans will be wowed,” writes Publisher’s Weekly in a starred review. Bookshop.
THE INHERITANCE OF LION HALL, Corina Bomann, Michael Meigs (Translator). In turn-of-the-century Sweden, a young woman successfully emancipates herself from her oppressive aristocratic family, but is called back to save the family estate after a tragedy. Bookshop.
ISLAND QUEEN, Vanessa Riley. The epic story of a woman who buys her freedom and goes on to build an entrepreneurial empire in 18th-century Caribbean. Bookshop.
AN AMBUSH OF WIDOWS, Jeff Abbott. Two seemingly unconnected businessmen are murdered, leaving their widows to find out what happened. Bookshop.
In Kelsey McKinney’s searing debut, God Spare The Girls, it’s clear from the epigraph that she won’t be pulling any punches. McKinney opens her novel with a selection from Genesis:
“Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
It’s a startling, disturbing quote, but McKinney uses the next 307 pages to paint a portrait of how that attitude still applies in contemporary evangelical…
WHAT’S DONE IN DARKNESS, Laura McHugh. Five years after she was kidnapped and held in the dark for a week, a young woman returns home to the religious community she left behind, hoping to understand why more women are going missing. Unsettling and transfixing; I loved this book. “McHugh writes here, as in earlier novels, with compassion and a strong moral compass. Her characters, even when they behave monstrously, do not fall into hero/villain binaries, which makes the betrayal Sarabeth uncovers all the more damning,” writes the New York Times. Bookshop.
THE GODMOTHERS, Camille Aubray. Four best friends must contend with their husbands’ drafts into WWII and the encroaching power of the Italian American mob. “ Addictive and tense… This credibly flips the script on male-dominated Mafia stories,” says Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.
HAIRPIN BRIDGE, Taylor Adams. A woman doubts a state trooper’s suspicious official report that her sister died by suicide by jumping off a bridge. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly calls it a “dazzling thriller… Adams is a writer to watch.” Bookshop.
THE OTHER BLACK GIRL, Zakiya Dalila Harris. A young, Black book publishing employee is thrilled when her employer hires another Black woman, but soon discovers that there’s something sinister about her. One of the biggest, most anticipated books of the year. The New York Times writes that “you will turn page after page after page in your eagerness to unravel this unique tale.” Bookshop.
THE WEDDING NIGHT, Harriet Walker. After a destination wedding is cancelled, a group of friends attempt to take the former bride-to-be’s mind off her disappointment with a vacation at a chateau. But when they wake up…
IMPOSTOR SYNDROME, Kathy Wang. A tense, electric novel about a Russian orphan who becomes a spy as the CEO of a Google-like tech company. Essential reading for anyone working in tech. I loved this book. Read an excerpt here. “This book is an impeccably-plotted and snarky page-turner, and its portrayal of Silicon Valley is so accurate that I laughed out loud a few times,” writes Susie Yang for Book of the Month. “Wang’s depictions of office politics and geopolitical dynamics are spot-on,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.
YES, DADDY, Jonathan Parks-Ramage. An aspiring playwright falls for an established writer, but when he visits the older man’s sprawling Hamptons estate, the relationship turns unsettling and violent. “A well-formed coming-of-age story, both erotic and chilling,” writes Kirkus. Bookshop.
THE ALBUM OF DR. MOREAU, Daryl Gregory. In this sci-fi novella, a Las Vegas detective has only 24 hours to uncover who murdered Dr. M., the manager of the world’s only genetically-engineered human-animal hybrid boy band. Bookshop.
I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.