THE KNOCKOUT QUEEN, Rufi Thorpe. Hands-down, my favorite book of the past year. Two teenaged outcasts become best friends, until a tragic act of violence leaves them both transformed. “In Thorpe’s Technicolor world, everyone is an innocent and everyone is culpable and no one is absolved, and the result is a novel both nauseatingly brutal and radically kind,” writes Kirkus. Read my review here. Find it on two lists in my Bookshop: Absolute, Number One All Time Faves, and Great Novels of California. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
MEADOWLARK, Melanie Abrams. Two childhood friends reconnect years later when one of them, a photojournalist, visits the other, who now leads a cult-like community in the Nevada desert. Bookshop.
TAKE ME APART, Sara Sligar. A riveting debut about a New Yorker who, after her career crumbles, moves to Marin County in the Bay Area to sort the personal effects of a famous female artist who died in a mysterious shooting. This was one of my most anticipated books of early 2020! Bookshop.
THE SWEENEY SISTERS, Lian Dolan. While hosting a memorial service for their beloved father, a famous literary figure, two sisters must grapple with the truth of their father’s past when their childhood neighbor shows up, claiming to be their sibling. Bookshop.
THE PERFECT DAUGHTER, Joseph Souza. A mother investigates a string of disappearances in a gentrifying seaside town in Maine. Bookshop.
THE HEIRLOOM GARDEN, Viola Shipman. With her traumatized veteran husband and young daughter, a woman moves to a small town in Michigan, where she develops a lifechanging relationship with her reclusive elderly neighbor. Bookshop.
SUMMER OF RECKONING, Marion Brunet, Katherine Gregor (Translator). A French family in a housing project faces long-dead secrets when their teenaged daughter falls pregnant and the father becomes hell-bent on revenge, choosing as his target the daughter’s Arab friend. Bookshop.
SEVEN ENDLESS FORESTS, April Genevieve Tucholke. When her sister is kidnapped, a young girl joins a band of traveling bards on a quest to find her and a mythical sword in this retelling of the Arthurian legend. One of my most anticipated books of the year. I can’t wait to pick it up! Bookshop.
IN OUR MIDST, Nancy Jensen. During WW2, a German-American family struggle to stay alive and intact as xenophobia and suspicion threaten to tear them apart. Bookshop.
IMPERFECTLY HAPPY, Sharina Harris. Four former best friends resolve to get together and fix their lives after years spent apart. Bookshop.
LITTLE FAMILY, Ishmael Beah. A group of young people cobble together a life in their conflict-ridden country by hiding out in an abandoned airplane, until one of them is tempted away by the wealthy elite. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
INCENDIARY, Zoraida Cordova. In this YA fantasy, a young woman who was forced to become a child soldier and “memory thief” for her country’s terroristic regime joins the rebel army, and must complete her commander and best friend’s secret mission when he is kidnapped by an infamously cruel prince. This one sounds like so much fun! Bookshop.
EMPIRE CITY, Matt Gallagher. A group of “Volunteers” — super soldiers enlisted to fight an endless overseas war — confronts the true nature of their powers as their country crumbles and a controversial retired general emerges as a leading presidential candidate. Bookshop.
DON’T CALL THE WOLF, Aleksandra Ross. A YA fantasy retelling of the Polish fairy tale “The Glass Mountain,” in which a queen and a soldier unite to defeat a vengeful dragon. Bookshop.
ALL FIRES THE FIRE, Julio Cortazar, Suzanne Jill Levine (Translator). A posthumous book of short stories from the famous Argentine novelist. Bookshop.
disclosure: I’m a Bookshop.org affiliate partner! That means when you click through one of my Bookshop links and make a purchase, I earn a commission. This doesn’t influence the books I choose, since… that selection is already entirely personal and privy to my tastes and whims!