EVENING, Nessa Rapoport. Stories and long-hidden secrets about a family unfold as a woman sits shiva for her recently-estranged late sister. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly calls it a “smart, darkly funny novel.” Bookshop.
FABLE, Adrienne Young. When her mother drowns and her powerful trader father abandons her, a seventeen-year-old is forced to fight for survival before embarking on a perilous journey to track down her father and claim her rightful place beside him. From the author of the beloved YA fantasy Sky In The Deep. Bookshop.
FIFTY WORDS FOR RAIN, Asha Lemmie. Raised by her grandparents, the daughter of a married Japanese aristocrat and an African American GI endures abuse and humiliation before forming an unlikely alliance with her older half brother that changes everything. “Lemmie’s heartbreaking story of familial obligations packs an emotional wallop,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.
THREE SINGLE WIVES, Gina LaManna. When the topic of a philandering husband comes up at a book club, one woman ends up dead. What really happened? “This rollicking tale is sure to win LaManna new fans,” writes PW in a starred review. Bookshop.
BEFORE THE EVER AFTER, Jacqueline Woodson. A son must cope when his his pro-football player father begins to experience memory loss and cognition issues from his lifetime of playing the hazardous sport. From the National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming. Bookshop.
PUNCHING THE AIR, Ibi Zoboi, Yusef Salaam. A YA novel in verse about a teenage boy who is wrongfully convicted of a crime. Bookshop.
THE LYING LIFE OF ADULTS, Elena Ferrante. After hearing her father call her ugly and compare her to an aunt he detests, a young girl’s life is thrown in disarray. From the author of the Neapolitan Novels. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
A DANCE WITH FATE, Juliet Marillier. In the latest novel by the iconic fantasy writer, a warrior bard must heal her injured friend to health and fight a rising evil that lingers beneath his home. Bookshop.
THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE, Nancy Jooyoun Kim. A young woman falls in love while investigating the suspicious death of her Korean immigrant mother. “An unforgettable reading experience,” says Etaf Rum for Book of the Month. Bookshop.
HIS ONLY WIFE, Peace Adzo Medie. When she marries a wealthy businessman sight unseen and moves to his home in Accra, Ghana, a woman discovers it’s actually the city, not the man, that captures her heart. The Star Tribune says it’s a “deeply engrossing chronicle of contemporary Ghanaian womanhood.” Bookshop.
RUTHIE FEAR, Maxim Loskutoff. A strange, almost fantastical creature a girl sees as a child re-emerges years later as a portent of tragedy that stalks her home in rural Montana. “Resonant characters and a great sense of place,” writes Kirkus in a starred review. Bookshop.
ROAD OUT OF WINTER, Alison Stine. In this dystopian novel, an Appalachian woman leaves behind a legacy of poverty to begin a new life, but not before becoming the target of a violent, volatile cult leader. Bookshop.
PAYBACK, Mary Gordon. A fitness instructor and host of a reality show about revenge focuses her attention on her own rape as a teen, and her young art teacher who victim-blamed her. “This mesmerizing novel hits hard,” writes Publisher’s Weekly in a starred review. Bookshop.
THE BOOK OF HIDDEN WONDERS, Polly Crosby. When her father, the creator of a famous series of children’s books, becomes increasingly suspicious of the world outside, a girl must find the answer to his ailment within the pages of his stories. Bookshop.
A GIRL IS A BODY OF WATER, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. Raised by many women in her village, a young girl begins to spend time with a local witch in hopes of discovering the truth of who her mother was. “ A vivid, rambling delight,” writes Kirkus. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING, Alyssa Cole. A tour guide discovers the gentrification of her Brooklyn neighborhood may be even more sinister than it appears. “Alyssa Cole’s latest triumph incorporates elements of both psychological thriller and social horror… highly original,” writes Bookpage. Read an excerpt here. Bookshop.
THE BASS ROCK, Evie Wyld. The story of three women — one accused of being a witch in the 18th century, one a newlywed in the wake of WWII, and one mourning the death of her father — who have found their lives irrevocably changed by men’s violence. “Psychologically fearless and… bitterly funny,” writes The Guardian. Bookshop.
THE APPOINTMENT, Katharina Volckmer. After her grandfather dies and she receives an unexpected inheritance, a German woman living in London unburdens herself to her therapist in a stream-of-consciousness narrative. Read an excerpt here. Bookshop.
TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM, Yaa Gyasi. A sixth-year PhD student in neuroscience at Stanford, determined to find the biological underpinnings of addiction and depression that plagues her family, finds herself drawn back to the evangelical church in which she was raised. From the acclaimed author of Homegoing. “A book of blazing brilliance,” writes The Washington Post. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.
I SURVIVED: THE CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES, 2018. A New Jerseyan child visits family friends in Northern California to escape a family tragedy, only to end up nearly dying in California’s worst wildfire in decades. I don’t usually cover middle grade for this column, but this is a topic close to my heart. I read this recently and it’s a sensitive, educational portrayal of the 2018 Camp Fire. Children will also be glued to the pages as Josh and his friend Holly run for their lives. Bookshop.
TEEN TITANS: BEAST BOY, Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo (illustrator). In this DC comic, when an uncool 17-year-old outsider finds himself suddenly getting everything he wants, he discovers the stakes keep rising. Is popularity really worth the high cost? Bookshop.