Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa AnapparaStarring: nine-year-old Jai, who turns detective when his classmate disappears from their unnamed Indian slum, and the two friends he charms into helping him, Pari and Faiz.
Why you might like it: The characters are engagingly complex; the neighborhood is poverty-stricken but full of life; the writing is descriptive, warm, and witty despite the heartbreaking lack of support for India's poor.
Read it if: Katherine Boo's depiction of a Mumbai slum in Behind the Beautiful Forevers stayed with you long after finishing.
The Regrets by Amy BonnaffonsStarring: recently deceased Thomas, who must remain on Earth for 90 days due to a bureaucratic error; Rachel, still alive but perpetually unlucky in love.
What happens: Despite being forbidden from interacting with the living, Thomas falls in love with Rachel, and the feeling is mutual.
Why you might like it: The surreal set-up creates a humorous, one-of-a-kind romantic comedy.
Everywhere You Don't Belong by Gabriel BumpWhat it's about: the coming of age of young Claude McKay Love, raised by his civil rights activist grandmother and her gay best friend on Chicago's South Side.
Why you might like it: Told in short vignettes and very much focused on themes of racial injustice, this debut offers sharp humor, clever dialogue, and a relatable protagonist in awkward, uncomfortable Claude.
Reviewers say: Debut author Gabriel Bump "delivers a singular sense of growing up black that will resonate with readers" (Library Journal).
The Bear by Andrew KrivakWhat it is: a moving, fable-like tale of the last two humans on earth, long after civilization has crumbled and nature has taken over.
Read it for: the haunting descriptions of a world empty of humans; the depictions of nature in all its glory; the tender relationship between a father and his daughter; the interactions between the last girl and the bear who befriends and helps her.
Want a taste? "Without you I'd be nothing but alone, he said. And without you I'd be alone, said the girl."
When We Were Vikings by Andrew MacDonaldFeaturing: Zelda, a 21-year-old whose fetal alcohol syndrome limits her in some ways but whose interest in Vikings leads her to strive for independence and help her caretaker brother.
For fans of: Benjamin Ludwig's Ginny Moon, Monica Woods' The One-in-a-Million Boy, or Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
Reviewers say: "An engaging, inclusive debut" (Kirkus Reviews).
Weather by Jenny OffillWhat it's about: the impending end of the world, as worried about by university librarian Lizzie, who's taken a second job for a podcaster who focuses on futurism. Other worries include: politics, her brother's drug addiction, her son's journey through New York's public school system, her knee, her mostly good relationship with her husband.
The style...might not be for everyone: it's told in observational fragments, and despite many witty, sharp comments, this quick read is drenched in anxiety and hopelessness.
The Authenticity Project by Clare PooleyWhat it's about: the connections made between strangers in a London neighborhood as they make deeply personal entries in a little green notebook.
For fans of: warmhearted tales of strangers coming together over shared experiences and honest conversations, like Anne Youngson's Meet Me at the Museum or Erica Bauermeister's The School of Essential Ingredients.
Shuggie Bain by Douglas StuartThe setting: Glasgow, Scotland, in the 1980s and early '90s.
Starring: young Shuggie Bain, bullied for his effeminate manner and living in oppressive poverty, whose beautiful mother is an alcoholic whom he loves deeply despite her flaws.
What it's like: dark, gritty, and with dialogue relayed in a Glaswegian dialect, this bleak coming-of-age story "will crack you open" (Kirkus Reviews).
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