Thank god for publishing. While so much of the world ground to a halt, folks in the book industry — writers, publicists, authors, booksellers — continued their relentless, energetic exercise in delivering the entertainment we all needed to get through the past year — and beyond. Now things are looking a bit brighter, and despite the increased ability many of us now possess to actually go out into the world and do things, the long list of upcoming summer book releases is so painfully excellent I’m a bit nervous I won’t actually end up doing much besides reading in different locales. You’ll find me at various North Brooklyn parks, bars, and backyards this summer behind a martini and a book or two or three, and once you get through this list (it’s long — I really couldn’t help myself!), I imagine others will find you somewhere in the world, face shaded by a freshly-cracked hardcover.
AN ORDINARY AGE: FINDING YOUR WAY IN A WORLD THAT EXPECTS EXCEPTIONAL, Rainesford Stauffer. May 4. Freelance writer Rainesford Stauffer investigates the forces of society that put undue pressure on young people to excel at all costs. Read an excerpt here. Bookshop.
PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION, Emily Henry. May 11. A travel influencer goes on what might be one last vacation with her best friend of ten years, with whom she’s gone on a yearly summer getaway for nearly that long. In a starred review, Kirkus calls it “a warm and winning When Harry Met Sally update that hits all the perfect notes.” Bookshop.
MEETING IN POSITANO, Goliarda Sapienza, Brian Robert Moore (translator). May 11. While working on a film in Southern Italy, an actress and writer forms an intimate friendship with a beautiful widow known locally as “Princess.” “The insights on the relationship between love and money give this elegantly slender novel a nice bit of heft,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.
A SPECIAL PLACE FOR WOMEN, Laura Hankin. May 11. A struggling journalist investigates a mysterious women-only social club that she thinks is hiding a huge secret. The Nerd Daily says it’s “an atmospheric, sharp read, perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Taylor Jenkins Reid.” Bookshop.
THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING, Nancy Tucker. May 18. After killing another child, a girl changes her name and goes into hiding, but twenty years later, the past begins to catch up with her in the form of threatening phone calls. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly calls it “a spectacular fiction debut.” Bookshop.
REVIVAL SEASON, Monica West. May 25. The daughter of a famous healing preacher discovers that her father may not be the holy man she’d been raised to believe he was— and that she might be the one with the true healing powers. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly calls it “explosive…West’s deep understanding of her characters and community makes for essential reading.” Bookshop.
BURN IT ALL DOWN, Nicolas DiDomizio. May 25. When an 18-year-old discovers his boyfriend is cheating on him at the same time his messy, wisecracking young mother’s relationship goes up in flames, the pair catastrophically attempt to get revenge on those who’ve wrong them. Bookshop.
IMPOSTOR SYNDROME, Kathy Wang. May 25. 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. “Wang’s depictions of office politics and geopolitical dynamics are spot-on,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.
FOR THE WOLF, Hannah Whitten. June 1. A fantastical retelling of Little Red Riding Hood that, in a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly calls “dazzling…Whitten lovingly weaves in elements from other fairy tales, including ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Snow White,’ while crafting a story that is all her own. With clever, immersive prose and a subtle touch of horror, this is sure to enchant.” Bookshop.
THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD, T.L. Huchu. June 1. An Edinburgh-based ghosttalker investigates who — or what — is sucking the souls out of children. “Expertly blending elements of Zimbabwean and Scottish culture, Huchu’s occult thriller is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking,” writes Publisher’s Weekly in a starred review. Bookshop.
THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN, Ava Reid. June 8. When she’s betrayed by her townspeople and surrendered as a blood sacrifice, a magicless outcast survives a monster attack during the journey and discovers that the other survivor is the disgraced prince who wants to save his kingdom from his violent brothers. “The convincing enemies-to-lovers romance, fascinating religion-based magic system, and thoughtful examination of zealotry make this a notable debut,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.
THE JASMINE THRONE, Tasha Suri. June 8. An exiled princess and a servant with a secret past endeavor to put the princess back on the throne. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly calls it “a fierce, heart-wrenching exploration of the value and danger of love in a world of politics and power… a blade-sharp, triumphant start to what promises to be an exciting series.” Bookshop.
WHAT’S DONE IN DARKNESS, Laura McHugh. June 22. Five years after she was abducted and held for a week, a young woman must face her past again when an investigator shows up at her door with suspicions that her case is similar to a more recent disappearance. I loved McHugh’s previous rural suspense, The Wolf Wants In, and am truly thrilled for this one. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “moving.” Bookshop.
THE GREAT MISTAKE, Jonathan Lee. June 15. Secrets are laid bare when a New Yorker responsible for the creation of several NYC cultural institutions is shot dead in broad daylight. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “audacious.” Bookshop.
GOD SPARE THE GIRLS, Kelsey McKinney. June 22. A stunning, gripping novel about two young women in North Texas who find their world rocked when they discover a secret about their father, a prominent evangelical pastor. Bookshop.
MONA AT SEA, Elizabeth Gonzalez James. June 30. A college graduate finds herself unmoored in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The Rumpus calls it “sharp, witty, strange… an absolute delight to read.” Bookshop.
ISLAND QUEEN, Vanessa Riley. July 6. In the early 19th century, a young woman born into slavery in the Caribbean goes on to become one of the islands’ biggest hoteliers. Bookshop.
EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM WILL SOMEDAY BE DEAD, Emily Austin. A young woman inadvertently gets a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church, replacing the recently deceased former employee. Lonely, she impersonates the dead receptionist and strikes up an email correspondence with the old woman’s friend, but when the police come around, she’ll be forced to reveal the many secrets she’s been hiding. Bookshop.
THE VIEW WAS EXHAUSTING, Mikaella Clements, Onjuli Datta. July 6. A British Indian actor and her faux on-again/off-again boyfriend stage a summer fling to take the heat off a scandal, but a shocking secret calls into question both their professional and personal relationships with each other. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly calls it an “excellent debut, a romance that’s as timely as it is heartfelt… Readers will come for the swoon-worthy romance and stay for the beautiful prose.” Bookshop.
THE FINAL GIRL SUPPORT GROUP, Grady Hendrix. July 13. A woman who survived a massacre twenty years earlier discovers that someone knows about the survivor support group she attends — and is determined to tear it apart. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly writes that “a wonderfully suspenseful and darkly comic novel that cleverly subverts popular culture. Horror fans will be wowed.” Bookshop.
WE WERE NEVER HERE, Andrea Bartz. July 13. Following up on her blockbuster thriller The Herd, Bartz investigates the impact of trauma on two best friends after one of them discovers the other standing over a dead man who, she claims, she killed in self-defense. Bookshop.
SIXTEEN HORSES, Greg Buchanan. July 20. After a police detective discovers sixteen severed horse heads on a farm and a veterinarian forensics expert finds a dangerous pathogen in the soil, the town dissolves into panic amid a growing wave of bizarre crimes. Bookshop.
SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN, Shelley Parker-Chan. July 20. In 14th century China, a young orphan takes on her dead brother’s identity, eventually becoming a rebel army commander intent on liberating China from Mongol rule. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “fascinating.” Bookshop.
THE SECOND SEASON, Emily Adrian. July 27. A famous basketball journalist pursues a job as an NBA announcer, but she must make a critical choice when she makes a discovery in a deserted locker room that destroys what she imagines for herself. “You don’t have to love basketball or care about motherhood to love this book, but this book will make you fall in love with both. I’m a goner; I will read anything she writes,” says Rufi Thorpe. Bookshop.
THEY’LL NEVER CATCH US, Jessica Goodman. July 27. Two cross country-star sisters find their lives upended when the new girl in town, a fellow runner, disappears without a trace. I loved Goodman’s They Wish They Were Us, so am particularly excited for this. Bookshop.
HOW TO FIND YOUR WAY IN THE DARK, Derek B. Miller. July 27. After his father is murdered, an orphan hell-bent on revenge embarks on a new life with his taciturn uncle in 1940s New England. Bookshop.
SOMETHING WILD, Hanna Halperin. July 29. Adult twin sisters have vastly different reactions to the revelation that their mother’s relationship with their stepfather is abusive, forcing them to reckon with a past that is deeply ingrained with violence. Bookshop.
ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES, Charlotte McConaghy. August 3. A pair of twins plagued by secrets lead a team of biologists to reintroduce 14 gray wolves to the highlands of Scotland, but when a local farmer is found dead, one of the sisters will go to reckless lengths to protect the wolves from the locals’ suspicion and revenge. Bookshop.
THE TURNOUT, Megan Abbott. August 3. Two orphaned ballerinas take over their dead parents’ ballet school, but a suspicious accident and a mysterious interloper threaten the delicate balance the women have cultivated. “There is not a writer alive who is better at investigating the tension and threat of violence at the center of women’s lives than Megan Abbott… The Turnout has notes of James M. Cain and Alfred Hitchcock, but it’s better because it’s so fresh and unexpected, so wholly revelatory,” says Attica Locke. Bookshop.
SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, Alexandra Kleeman. August 3. After decamping to California to oversee a film adaptation of one of his books, an East Coast novelist forms a reluctant relationship with the star of the film as they discover that the droughts, wildfires, and other maladies ravaging California may be the fault of a new synthetic water company. Bookshop.
DAMNATION SPRING, Ash Davidson. August 3. A family who’s worked for decades in a logging community in Northern California begins to suspect the miscarriages they’re plagued with stem from the logging company’s heavy use of herbicides. Shelf Awareness calls it “astonishing… a stunning literary achievement.” Bookshop.
THE PEOPLE WE KEEP, Allison Larkin. August 3. In small town New York in 1994, a young woman living in a motor home and barely scraping by decides to steal a car and take herself on a road trip that will change her life forever. “Raw, surprising and ultimately uplifting, Allison Larkin’s The People We Keep will break your heart a million different ways before putting it back together again,” says Julia Claiborne Johnson. Bookshop.
AFTERPARTIES: STORIES, Anthony Veasna So. August 3. Portraits of the Cambodian-American community in Southern California. “A wildly energetic, heartfelt, original debut,” says George Saunders. Bookshop.
THE PERFUME THIEF, Timothy Schaffert. August 3. An elderly American reformed con artist moves to Paris and opens a perfume shop, but as the Nazis descend upon France and her friends begin to disappear, she teams up with a cabaret singer to steal a perfume recipe book from a Nazi bureaucrat. Bookshop.
IN MY DREAMS I HOLD A KNIFE, Ashley Winstead. August 3. Ten years after a girl at her college was murdered, a woman returns and reunites with her six best college friends and confronts the secrets they’d thought were long buried. Bookshop.
THE SHIMMERING STATE, Meredith Westgate. August 10. In an alternate Los Angeles in which people use and abuse a memory-erasing drug, a photographer and a ballerina meet at a mysterious center dedicated to treating people who’ve abused the drug — with no memory of how they got there, or why they’re inextricably drawn to each other. Frances Cha calls it “cinematic, dreamlike, at times brutal yet poignant.” Bookshop.
THE OPHELIA GIRLS, Jane Healey. August 10. A seventeen-year-old girl whose cancer is in remission moves to the grand house where her mother grew up — and survived a tragedy alongside several friends as they became obsessed with pre-Raphaelite paintings, Ophelia, and each other. Healey’s gothic novel The Animals At Lockwood Manor was imaginative and tense; I’m thrilled for her next. Bookshop.
A MILLION THINGS, Emily Spurr. August 24. A ten year old wakes up one morning to find her mother gone, forcing her to find a way to live on her own — until people notice she’s raising herself. Bookshop.
CHILD IN THE VALLEY, Gordy Sauer. August 24. An orphan on the run from his dead doctor father’s debt offers his medical expertise to a team of ragtag outsiders as they embark on a crime-ridden journey across the United States to Gold Rush-era California. “ Vividly brutal and haunting, well beyond its subject matter,” wrote Larry McMurtry. Bookshop.
THE WOMEN OF TROY, Pat Barker. August 24. After the fall of Troy, Achilles’ former mistress Briseis forges alliances with other women while plotting revenge. From the author of the spectacular The Silence of the Girls. Bookshop.
FORESTBORN, Elayne Audrey Becker. August 31. To save the prince and his friend, who have both come down with a magical illness, a young shapeshifter whose powers are illicit and feared must venture into a wilderness where she swore she’d never return to find the cure. Bookshop.
REVELATOR, Daryl Gregory. August 31. Fifteen years after tragedy forced her to flee her home in rural Tennessee, a bootlegger returns home for her grandmother’s funeral, where she encounters a mysteriously powerful ten-year-old girl who has direct links to the woman’s destructive past. Bookshop.
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