Fiction A to Z
The Salt Line: A Novel by Holly Goddard JonesDystopian fiction continues to bring readers a wealth of dark futures to contemplate, and this one is no different. Most of humanity lives in carefully protected, rigidly regulated enclaves, surrounded by scorched earth (known as salt lines) that separate them from deadly, disease-carrying ticks. But the wealthy are still thrill-seekers, and what's more thrilling than venturing beyond safety to the wilderness beyond the salt lines? Need a comparison? It's "The Hunger Games meets The Godfather meets Robin Cook," says Kirkus Reviews.
Little Fires Everywhere: A Novel by Celeste NgUgliness seethes under a placid suburban surface in this multilayered novel, which features two families that grow too close for comfort. It begins when itinerant artist Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl rent a Shaker Heights, Ohio, house from the Richardsons, who have four kids around Pearl's age. Three of the four become Pearl's constant companions; the fourth becomes Mia's. But it's a custody suit elsewhere in the community that threatens everything -- and calls into being the "little fires everywhere." Told backwards through time through multiple narrators, this insightful book will appeal to fans of complex family dramas like Ann Patchett's Commonwealth or Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies.
Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn WardThis new novel from National Book Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward started getting attention long before it was published, and is already being considered for prizes of its own. A story of how the past affects the present, and of deeply entrenched racism, it is also the tale of a biracial boy and his addicted, grieving black mother and incarcerated white father. A road trip to Dad's prison kick-starts the novel, which offers deeply affecting characters, a strong sense of place (rural Mississippi), and a touch of magical realism in appearances by the dead.
If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah WeissIn 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. With fascinating characters -- Sadie, schoolteacher Kate, the preacher, a local medicine woman, and others -- who share narrative duties, this bewitching debut vividly portrays impoverished Appalachia.
Something Like Happy by Eva WoodsThirty-five-year-old Annie Hebden has lost her baby, her husband, and will soon lose her mother, too. Depressed and numb, she is the antithesis of her eccentric, bubbly new friend, Polly, who wakes each morning determined to wring as much happiness out of her day as she can. Polly has challenged Annie to try one way to be happy each day for 100 days -- which may be all that Polly, who has terminal brain cancer, has left. Alternately tragic and comic, this charming, heartwarming debut set in London is "inspiration in a bottle" (Booklist), and was inspired by a social media hashtag.
If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth HarbisonTomorrow is Ramie Phillips' 38th birthday, and she's celebrating on a luxury boat funded by her successful career. But a friend's pregnancy announcement reawakens doubts about her life's priorities, so when Ramie wakes up the next morning as her 18-year-old self, she decides to give life with her first love a second chance. Will that make her any happier? Only time will tell...
The Returned by Jason MottLong-deceased persons have been showing up, hale and hearty, all over the globe, causing consternation among folks who worry who's going to feed and clothe them. Among these worriers are Harold and Lucille Hargrave. Though they're now in their eighties, their 8-year-old son, who died decades earlier, is now very much alive. This strange new reality must be dealt with, even as the world around them struggles with questions that range from the spiritual to the political. A great "what-if" novel, The Returned is "startling and disturbing" (Kirkus Reviews).
Seconds: A Graphic Novel by Bryan Lee O'MalleyNot long after 29-year-old chef Kate makes a terrible error in the kitchen of her restaurant, she discovers the house sprite who lives there. It begrudgingly grants her the ability to retroactively fix her mistake -- but having gotten one makes Kate greedy for more "second chances," and soon her grasp on reality weakens as she changes more and more of her decisions. Written and illustrated by the author of the Scott Pilgrim series, this colorful, bold graphic novel is "hilarious" (Publishers Weekly).
Landline by Rainbow RowellDeftly balancing a successful career and a wonderful family, Georgie McCool's life reaches the next level when she sells a television pilot to a network -- but it comes with a deadline that conflicts with the family's annual Christmas vacation. When she opts out in favor of working, her frustrated husband Neal takes the kids and heads to Nebraska without her. And when Georgie calls on the landline, Neal picks up. However, it's not present-day Neal she's speaking to -- it's Neal from the past, shortly before they got engaged. Handed an improbable opportunity to reexamine (and possibly alter) her past, Georgie must evaluate her life and decide what to do about her own future.
The Bookseller: A Novel by Cynthia SwansonIn 1962, Kitty Miller leads a somewhat unconventional life as a single woman and the co-owner of a bookstore. But whenever she falls asleep, she somehow starts living the life of Katharyn Anderson, married and the mother of three in 1963. As Kitty figures out the moment that resulted in two such different paths, she also identifies the trade-offs and sacrifices each course required -- and begins to wonder which version is the real one. With a retro-urban feel and a compelling set-up, the mystery of Kitty/Katharyn lasts until the final pages.
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