"That night, Sara sat in Amy's library for hours, thinking about how tragic it was that the written word was immortal while people were not, and grieving for her, the woman she had never met."
~ from Katarina Bivald's The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina BivaldLike The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a book for bibliophiles. Sara Lindqvist is a Swede visiting Broken Wheel, Iowa, to meet her penpal, Amy, whom she knows only through letters and the books they've exchanged. Unfortunately, the day Sara arrives is also the day of Amy's funeral. To honor her, Sara decides to open a bookshop in one of the town's abandoned storefronts, with unanticipated results. A bit of romance and plenty of quirky characters round out this endearing debut novel.
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie CopletonIn 1945, Amaterasu Takahashi lost her daughter and grandson in the bombing of Nagasaki. Nearly 40 years later, Amaterasu is widowed and lonely in Pennsylvania, taking solace in alcohol, when a disfigured man arrives, claiming to be her grandson. He's also in possession of a cache of letters to his mother from the man who adopted him that changes Amaterasu's understanding of painful events of the past. Deliberately paced, this debut novel incorporates letters and diary entries, and is set as much in Amaterasu's youth as it is in her current life.
Like Family by Paolo GiordanoMrs. A came into the unnamed narrator's life when his wife was put on bedrest during her pregnancy. Hired as a housekeeper, she stays on as nanny but really resembles a family member; all three come to depend upon her calm nature, amiable stories, and gentle guidance. When after several years she retires before quickly succumbing to terminal cancer, the family is left adrift. A short novel told from the point of view of a rather detached scientist, Like Family examines the bonds that make up a family and the painful consequences of loss.
A Moment of Silence: Midnight III by Sister SouljahIn this hefty 3rd installment in the Midnight series, the young Sudanese Muslim has returned to the U.S. to live with his two wives, his mother, and his sister. Surrounded by those who neither understand nor appreciate his drive, his faith, or his culture, Midnight is under a lot of pressure, and in a moment of rage he risks losing all he's worked to achieve... Steamy moments between Midnight and his wives heat up the novel, while Midnight's stint in prison allows for reflections on the obstacles facing black communities. And, fans of The Coldest Winter Ever (for which the Midnight novels are prequels) will relish Ricky Santiaga's appearance on the scene.
Two Across: A Novel by Jeffrey BartschVera and Stanley met as awkward teenagers when they shared the prize at the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Each from difficult families, their friendship strengthens over the years until they decide on a fake marriage that would solve some of their problems. This, of course, just leads to other problems, since Vera actually is in love with Stanley...and Stanley, while indubitably brainy, doesn't understand his own feelings. A sweet, leisurely paced debut, this love story will appeal to fans of crosswords (Stanley's passion), character transformations, and stories that span a long period of time.
Holy Cow by David DuchovnyIn this "modern-day dairy tale," the main character is a cow -- Elsie Bovary, to be precise. She's got excellent grammar, a low opinion of the conversational skills of kangaroos, and no love for roosters. She's a very smart cow, is what we're saying, and she's shocked when she learns how cows are slaughtered. Along with a Jewish pig and a tech-savvy turkey, she decides to leave the farm in search of tolerance and understanding (India for her, and Israel and Turkey for the other two respectively). Now all they need are disguises and some passports... Off-beat and slyly humorous, this debut from television actor David Duchovny will be joined in April by a second novel on an entirely different topic.
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire FullerPeggy Hillcoat is only eight years old when her father takes her from their London home to live deep in a European forest, where he proclaims that her mother and the rest of civilization have been wiped out. After nine years of subsisting on what the forest has to offer, she finds evidence of other human life, which eventually leads to her reconciliation with her mother. Badly damaged -- both physically and emotionally -- Peggy is hiding more than one secret, and readers who enjoy gradual reveals will appreciate this compelling debut and its child-like heroine.
Where All Light Tends to Go by David JoyThis debut novel joins others in the increasingly popular genre of country noir (think stories by Ron Rash or Daniel Woodrell), complete with a looming sense of doom. Jacob McNeely works, against his will, for his father's meth ring in a poor North Carolina town, but he wants a better life for himself and the girl he loves. Efforts to make it happen, however, ensnare him ever deeper in his family's business. "Engaging characters, a well-realized setting, and poetic prose" are among the highlights of this suspenseful novel, says Publishers Weekly.
Before I Go by Colleen OakleyThe day before her third cancer-free anniversary, Daisy Richmond learns that the cancer is back and she likely has only months to live. Though she's stricken by her diagnosis, she's equally worried about how her husband will handle her death, and sets about finding a new wife for him. Though an incredibly emotional read (you'll want to have tissues handy), debut author Colleen Oakley includes plenty of humor in this tale of the different ways that humans handle grief.
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