Fiction A to Z
The Dakota Winters by Tom BarbashWhat happens: 23-year-old Anton Winter comes of age, with a little help from his friends.
What it includes: Father-son dynamics, television talk shows, John Lennon, Manhattan in the 1980s, and Ted Kennedy's presidential campaign.
Why you might like it: Chock-full of '80s culture and sprinkled with celebrities (both real and imagined), this engaging and imaginative novel casts a nostalgic spell.
The Adults by Caroline HulseStarring: Matt (and his girlfriend, Alex), Claire (and her boyfriend, Patrick), and Matt and Claire's seven-year-old daughter, Scarlett, all of whom are spending Christmas together at a family amusement park.
What happens: As the cover image suggests, it doesn't go well. Someone is shot with a bow and arrow, but before we get to that point in this entertaining debut, tension and jealousy abound.
Read it for: The police interviews and fun-park brochures that are interspersed with scenes of the quickly deteriorating situation; the astringent, dry wit; plenty of British slang; and a giant invisible rabbit named Posey.
The Museum of Modern Love by Heather RoseWhat it's about: The many people who find themselves drawn to performance artist Marina Abramovic, who stages herself at Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art for hours, waiting to gaze into the eyes of anyone who chooses to seat themselves at her table.
Why you might like it: Abramovic's performance (which actually did take place in 2010) elicits strong responses in the audience, as returning observers connect with each other, reflect on their losses, and interact with the artist. The result is a thought-provoking exploration not just of art but of love and desire as well.
Come With Me by Helen SchulmanChoose your own adventure: For breadwinning mom Amy, it's a real option when her boss enlists her to try out cutting-edge software that will allow her to experience what her life might have been had she made different choices. With a faltering marriage and three challenging kids, that's mighty appealing for Amy.
For fans of: Other domestic dramas that add a fantastical element to the age-old question of "What if?," like Leigh Himes' The One That Got Away or Taylor Jenkin Reid's Maybe in Another Life.
The Summer List by Amy Mason DoanThen: Laura and Casey were inseparable as teenagers, spending their time following elaborate scavenger hunts that Casey's young, free-spirited mother created for them.
Now: As adults, Laura and Casey are estranged, but they can't resist one last scavenger hunt. As they slowly rekindle their friendship, not only will misunderstandings be cleared up, but secrets long kept hidden will be revealed.
Read it for: Themes of motherhood, acceptance, and first loves.
Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. LeeWhat it's about: The relationship between responsible Miranda and her irrepressible younger sister Lucia, which is severely tested by Lucia's wild behavioral swings and cycles of depression and delusion.
Read if for: An astute, compassionate picture of what it's like to struggle with mental illness or to love someone who does; vividly described settings, including New York City in the 1990s and several locations in Ecuador; the complex intermingling of cultures.
Reviewers say: "Powerfully hopeful" (Bust Magazine).
Severance by Ling MaWhat it is: A mixture of apocalyptic world-building (a plague has ravaged New York and the rest of the world), anti-capitalist satire, and...the coming-of-age of a millennial blogger?
What happens: Shen Fever hits, turning regular people into routine-driven automatons; at first, professionally unfulfilled Candace doesn't notice, but soon she's one of the few survivors of this curious pandemic, and joins an odd little band headed west.
Read if for: An engaging and entertaining story that illuminates the hypocrisy and flaws of capitalism.
Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas ContrerasWhat it's about: In Pablo Escobar's unstable, violent Colombia, two very different girls form a bond that ultimately threatens to be their undoing.
Featuring: Seven-year-old Chula, precocious and sheltered by her family's money; 13-year-old Petrona, who works as a maid after her family is destroyed by guerrillas.
Reviewers say: "Dazzling and devastating" (San Francisco Chronicle).
Cherry by Nico WalkerStarring: An unnamed Army medic who turns to heroin to cope with PTSD, and takes to robbing banks to support his addiction.
Is it for you? Raw, brutal writing depicts the horrors of war and the harrowing traumas of addiction.
About the author: Like his main character, debut author Nico Walker is an Army veteran, recovering heroin addict, and is currently in prison for bank robbery.
Meet Me at the Museum by Anne YoungsonFeaturing: A disenchanted farmer's wife in England and a widowed museum curator in Denmark.
What's inside: A series of thoughtful, reflective letters, through which the lonely pair begins to build an unexpected yet meaningful connection.
Why you might like it: This leisurely paced debut is both hopeful and calming, and may best be enjoyed in a cozy spot on a rainy afternoon.
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