Fiction A to Z
Twenty-One Truths about Love by Matthew DicksWhat it is: the story of a man's life -- career woes, a loving marriage, feelings of inadequacy -- told entirely through lists.
Why you might like it: The unusual format allows father-to-be Daniel Mayrock to express all his hopes and fears with humor and vulnerability.
Read these next: David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary; Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.
Meg and Jo by Virginia KantraWhat it is: a modern-day adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, in which independent Jo balances restaurant work and romance and Meg is a stay-at-home mom.
What remains the same: Though their challenges are contemporary, the sisters' core characteristics remain the same. Fans of the classic novel -- or of family-centric stories in general -- will enjoy this reboot.
Pick it up if: you enjoyed the recent movie version -- or missed it in theaters.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley ReidStarring: Emira, a college-educated babysitter, who is black; her wealthy employer Alix, who is white.
What happens: An accusation of kidnapping shakes and terrifies Emira, shocks Alix, and leads to a complicated situation when well-meaning (but clueless) Alix proceeds to implement a "solution" for her own feelings of guilt -- regardless of what Emira wants.
Read it for: An upending of the white savior trope; a thought-provoking examination of contemporary race relations; nuanced characters; and even some humor.
Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie ValerieFeaturing: Overwhelmed Holly Banks, mother to kindergartner Ella. Holly has inadvertently started off in her perfect new town on completely the wrong foot, and has made an enemy in the vindictive PTA president.
Good news: This is purportedly the 1st in a new series set in the idyllic village of Primm, which has a definite Stars Hollow feeling to it...or maybe we're thinking of Stepford.
For fans of: quirky, over-the-top tales of modern motherhood, like Maria Semple's Today Will Be Different.
This Is Happiness by Niall WilliamsWhat it is: an old man's memories of falling in -- and out of -- love for the first time, at the same time that his tiny Irish hamlet finally adopts electricity and a newcomer provides his own tale to tell.
Why you might like it: A reflective, contemplative story with a strong sense of Ireland in the 1950s, This Is Happiness is narrated in a poetic, lyrical manner.
Reviewers say: "a lilting, magical homage to time and redemption, and a stirring, sentimental journey into the mysteries of love and the possibilities of friendship" (Booklist).
Focus on: The Debuts of 2019
The Red Address Book by Sofia LundbergWhat it is: a lifetime's worth of stories, all prompted by a handwritten address book owned by 96-year-old Stockholm resident Doris.
Why you might like it: Spanning multiple historical settings from Paris in the 1930s to Stockholm today, this sweet and sentimental novel offers a tale of star-crossed lovers and a strong grandmother-granddaughter connection.
For fans of: the novels of Fredrik Backman or Nina George.
We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos RuffinWhat happens: Tired of experiencing nearly constant racism in the near-future American South, the unnamed black narrator is desperate to protect his biracial son from the same fate: he's considering an experimental plastic surgery to make his son appear white.
Why you should read it: The seemingly absurd situations the narrator experiences highlight the structural racism of this dystopian future...which is simply a forecast of the world today.
Reviewers say: "rakishly funny and distressingly up-to-the-minute" (Kirkus Reviews).
A People's History of Heaven by Mathangi SubramanianWhat it is: The story of five best friends in a Bangalore slum, who together with their independent mothers and their community fight to save their homes from being bulldozed to build a mall.
Who they are: Already marginalized by their poverty and gender, these five friends are of different religions, backgrounds, and sexual identities, but they share the same tenacious spirit.
About the author: This is YA author Mathangi Subramanian's first novel for adults.
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean VuongWhat it is: a novel framed as a letter from an adult son to his illiterate mother, exploring the legacy of the Vietnam War on their family and explaining his first doomed love with a boy two years older.
Reviewers say: "a raw and incandescently written foray into fiction by one of our most gifted poets" (Kirkus Reviews).
Want a taste? "Because freedom, I am told, is nothing but the distance between hunter and prey."
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara ZgheibStarring: French former ballerina Anna Roux, who enters an American treatment facility to get help for a life-threatening eating disorder.
Why you might like it: Poetically written, this moving debut captures the challenges of disordered eating as it depicts the friendships that form among the young women at 17 Swann Street.
About the author: Yara Zgheib is herself in recovery from anorexia.
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