Fiction A to Z
Find Me by André AcimanWhat it is: a follow-up to the bestselling Call Me By Your Name, which picks up years later as Elio, his father Samuel, and Elio's first love Oliver start -- and end -- relationships.
Is it for you? Readers who loved the meditation on love found in the earlier book will want to pick that story up again here.
But what about Elio and Oliver? You'll have to be patient to find out if they ever get back together.
The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie ButlandStarring: 28-year-old Ailsa Rae, who finally receives a heart transplant and must adjust to a new way of living.
What happens: Told in part through blog posts and emails, this moving novel traces Ailsa's post-transplant life, which includes growing independence, a changing relationship with her caretaker mother, new friendships, a job, and the search for the father who abandoned her at birth.
Why you might like it: This endearing, Edinburgh-set read sparkles with both humor and emotion.
The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson SextonThe timelines: In 2017, Ava, who is biracial, moves herself and her son in with her increasingly erratic white grandmother. In 1925, Ava's ancestor Josephine, once a slave, runs a successful family farm, but an uneasy friendship with the white woman next door may have terrible consequences.
The themes: the impact of racism; interracial relationships between women; motherhood; the power of hope.
Want a taste? "'I have a bad feeling about her.' He nods in Grandma's direction."
Nothing to See Here by Kevin WilsonWhat it's about: Lillian has agreed to watch her friend Madison's stepchildren for the summer. Twist: they burst into flames when upset.
What happens: Lillian, whose life has stalled ever since she was kicked out of school, has no experience with children. And yet she starts to love these two unloved kids.
Why you might like it: Flawed, quirky characters and offbeat humor make this a wry, engaging read.
Book buzz: Nothing to See Here was selected for the Today show's book club.
If I Fall, if I Die by Michael ChristieStarring: 12-year-old Will, whose mother has never allowed him outside due to her untreated agoraphobia and depression.
What happens: Once he leaves his home to investigate a strange noise, Will's world rapidly expands as he makes friends, begins attending school, and looks into the disappearance of the first boy he met. Meanwhile, his mother retreats even more.
Read it if: you enjoyed the child's perspective on the world found in Emma Donoghue's Room or Joyce Maynard's Labor Day.
If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher GreeneWhat it's about: A chance meeting between two former lovers brings back all their emotions -- and now they must decide what to do about it.
Read it for: authentic, sympathetic characters; the star-crossed nature of their first love; their second chance at a relationship.
Reviewers say: "An inspiring novel about surviving the mistakes of our youth" (Library Journal).
If You Only Knew by Kristan HigginsStarring: Sisters Jenny and Rachel, whose perfect marriages turn out to be too good to be true.
What happens: Starting over, Jenny moves home and begins an unexpected relationship with her apartment building's cranky superintendent; just as Jenny's making strides, Rachel discovers her own husband might be cheating on her.
Why you might like it: snarky humor leavens heartbreak and woe; the bond between sisters provides emotional support; spot-on dialogue captures their relationship.
If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca MaraisWhat it is: the slowly unfolding stories of a pregnant black teen, an Afrikaner socialite, and a former nun, all living in rural post-apartheid South Africa, where a newborn ultimately brings them together.
Read it for: the compelling characters, the intricate plot, and the vividly depicted era, beset by the threat of civil war and the growing AIDS epidemic.
About the author: Bianca Marais is a South African living in Canada.
If You See Me, Don't Say Hi by Neel PatelWhat it is: an observant, moving collection of 11 short stories that follows a cast of first- and second-generation Indian American characters, gay and straight, who mostly grew up in the American Midwest. Their success, though expected, is often ill-fated.
Don't miss: the title story; the linked tales that end the book.
About the author: Like many of his characters, debut author Neel Patel is a first-generation Indian American.
If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah WeissWhat it's about: In a remote North Carolina mountain town, 17-year-old Sadie feels trapped -- pregnant and married to an abusive adulterer, her options are limited. When a new schoolteacher arrives in town, things seem ripe for change not just for Sadie but for others in her community as well.
Why you might like it: With fascinating characters -- Sadie, schoolteacher Kate, the preacher, a local medicine woman, and others -- who share narrative duties, this bewitching debut vividly portrays impoverished 1970s Appalachia.
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