The Reading List by Sara Nisha AdamsStarring: widower Mukesh, who takes up reading as a way to feel closer to his late wife; teenager Aleisha, who finds a reading list hidden in a book while working, reluctantly, at the library.
What happens: After a rough start, Aleisha and Mukesh form an unexpected connection each desperately needs as they deal with their own separate challenges.
Read it for: copious literary references, a sincerely felt love of reading, and wonderfully realized characters.
Feral Creatures by Kira Jane BuxtonWhat it is: the sequel to the cheeky post-apocalyptic Hollow Kingdom, starring S.T., the foul-mouthed crow with a heart of gold.
What happens: For 13 years, S.T. has been caring for the last surviving human, Dee. Called by the prophet Onida, they return to Seattle to confront the monstrosity that humankind has become.
Read it for: humor, tension, unique characters, and, through S.T. and Dee, "an intriguing look at the relationship between parents and the children who don’t conform to their expectations" (Kirkus Reviews).
What Strange Paradise by Omar El AkkadWhat it's about: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian refugee who is the only survivor of a harrowing boat trip to the Greek island of Kos and who provides a portrait of the global refugee crisis through his eyes.
Why you might like it: This heart-wrenching coming-of-age story provides compelling suspense with an urgent examination of humanity in crisis.
Reviewers say: "incisive" (Kirkus Reviews); "heartbreaking" (Booklist).
The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay FayeWhat it is: a dramatic and complex reboot of Shakespeare's Hamlet, with a generous sprinkling of both mystery and fantasy.
What happens: After his theater bigwig father dies mysteriously and his uncle marries his mother, Ben Dane, his best friend Horatio Patel, and his artist ex-fiancé Lia search for the truth.
Read it for: other characters from Shakespeare's plays (including three potentially magical sisters); Ophelia finally getting a chance to shine; author Lyndsay Faye's skill with mash-ups.
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne JeffersWhat it is: the multigenerational saga of modern-day Ailey Pearl Garfield and her ancestors: Creeks, enslaved Africans, and their Scottish owners.
What happens: Ailey, the daughter of an accomplished doctor and a strict schoolteacher, begins to search out her family’s past and preserve their piece of American history.
For fans of: Maisy Card's These Ghosts Are Family, Namwali Serpell's The Old Drift, Kevin Powers' A Shout in the Ruins.
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan BarryIntroducing: the perennially losing Danvers Falcons women's field hockey team, who in 1989 are on their way to the state finals...possibly due to their deal with the devil (or is just that their shared pact has them finally thinking like a team?).
Read it for: a chance to indulge your '80s nostalgia; a diverse array of complex characters; a clever and thought-provoking take on teenage challenges.
The Gifted School by Bruce HolsingerThe crisis: An exclusive school for gifted children has opened in Crystal, Colorado, with limited spots. And almost immediately, the bonds between the students and parents in the tight-knit community begin fraying.
The participants: rich parents, divorced parents, single moms, and their offspring, all sharing narrative duties.
For fans of: Liane Moriarty's lethal approach to competitive parenting in Big Little Lies or Laurie Gelman's snarkier take on parental drama, Class Mom.
Speak No Evil by Uzodinma IwealaWhat it's about: Star athlete Niru is bound for the Ivy League...until his loving but traditional Nigerian parents discover that he's gay. The repercussions are violent and far-reaching.
Why you should read it: Cross-generational conflict, as well as cross-cultural complications, are sensitively portrayed. Niru is a complex young man trying to come to terms with being a young gay Black man.
Is it for you? Readers who prefer happy endings will want to look elsewhere.
My Latest Grievance
by Elinor Lipman
What happens?: Chafing under the stifling and claustrophobic care of her liberal parents, Frederica Hatch finds her snug world transformed by Laura Lee French, a new college dorm mother and wannabe former Rockette who had once been married to Frederica's earnest and unglamorous father. By the author of The Inn at Lake Devine..
Reviewers say: "Language is a musical instrument in Lipman's skillful hands; her dialog resonates with emotion. Alternately hilarious and charming, this book will enchant every reader."--Library Journal,
June 1, 2007
I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi WaxmanStarring: single mother Jessica Burstein and her daughter Emily, who are off on a college tour with a busload of strangers.
What happens: While Jessica hopes that the tour will bring them closer, Emily is frustrated by her mom's constant pushing. Add a cheating scandal back home, Jessica's (secret) job struggles, and the cast of well-depicted supporting characters on the bus, and things don't quite go to plan.
Read it for: the likeable leading ladies and the humor, by turns sardonic and compassionate.
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