Good Intentions by Kasim AliIntroducing: Nur, the eldest son of first-generation Pakistani immigrants. Although born and raised in Britain, Nur is expected to adhere to their conservative beliefs about race, class, and marriage.
Enter Yasmina... The highly intelligent, ambitious Black British journalist who captivates Nur at first glance (and whose race and Muslim faith guarantee his parents' disapproval).
What's next? Intensifying angst forces characters (and readers) to wonder if "good intentions" matter when the outcome is hurtful.
Would I Lie to You? by Aliya Ali-afzalIn a word... Yes. Eager to fit in with the cliquish, wealthy wives in her London community, Pakistani British Faiza indulges in everything luxe, from designer fashion to pricey beauty procedures.
Little lies cost a lot: Only when her husband is suddenly sacked does Faiza realize that she's blown through the family's entire emergency fund. She desperately piles on the deceptions to hide her misdeed.
Read it for: Relationship fiction with a spicy slice of social commentary on race, class, and gender.
The Selfless Act of Breathing by J.J. BolaWhat it's about: British teacher Michael Kabongo -- whose Congolese mother emigrated to the UK -- is terminally burnt out. He quits his job, pulls his savings, and heads to America.
The twist: His plan is to commit suicide once his funds run out. For better or worse, he gets sidetracked along the way.
Critics say: "Chronicling someone's emotional deterioration [is] a tricky affair... Bola acquits himself beautifully; his prose is sensitive and powerful" (Kirkus Reviews).
Don't Know Tough by Eli CranorThe game plan: The Christian head coach of a small-town Arkansas team and his family try to help Billy, the team's star running back, whose abusive home life begins to manifest as dangerous aggression on the field.
Foul play: When the cruel boyfriend of Billy's mother is found murdered, Billy is naturally the main suspect. Did he do it -- or is this already troubled teen being sold short?
For fans of: Coming-of-age stories with an edgy mystery twist.
The Last Suspicious Holdout by Ladee HubbardInspired in part by... the author's life as a New Orleans native, this short story collection describes a Southern Black community plagued by inequities at the turn of the 21st century.
Critics say: The collection is a "panorama of Black lives," treating topics from gentrification to the "heroic efforts of even the poorest community residents to retain grace, decorum, and some autonomy over their surroundings" (Kirkus Reviews).
If you like this: Don't miss out on Hubbard's earlier full-length novels, The Talented Ribkins and The Rib King.
The Apartment on Calle Uruguay by Zachary LazarWhat it's about: Christopher, an artist devasted by his girlfriend's sudden death and dismayed by post-Obama American politics, retreats to New York. He finds new love with Ana, a Venezuelan refugee with family living in exile in Mexico.
It's complicated: The novel brilliantly works through layers of love (familial and romantic), identity after immigration (although Israeli-born, Christopher came to America as a very young child), and the purpose of art.
Read it for: "a stream of consciousness tour de force" (Booklist).
True Biz by Sara NóvicWhat happens: After a failed cochlear implant, highschooler Charlie gains confidence at a residential school for the deaf; fellow student Austin copes with the birth of a hearing sibling; February, the headmistress, battles bureaucracy and the prospect of a failing marriage.
Critics say: Publishers Weekly praises this own voices novel as an "electrifying narrative" and an "unforgettable homage to resilience."
What to read next? Deaf Republic, a collection of poetry by Ilya Kaminsky. If poetry isn't your thing, try Jessica White's Hearing Maud or William Hazelgrove's My Best Year.
The Wise Women by Gina SorellIntroducing: Wendy Wise, aging advice columnist, and her adult daughters Barb and Clementine, both with financial and relationship issues that converge in a hot mess.
What happens: Wendy swoops in to sort out the girls' problems. In reality, the trio's dysfunctional mother-daughter and sibling relationships need sorting first.
Read it for: Quirky, likable characters; sticky family dynamics handled in a lighthearted tone; a strong sense of place (New York City's outer boroughs).
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