Milk Fed by Melissa BroderStarring: twenty-something Rachel, whose anorexia is closely linked to an overbearing mother but whose burgeoning attraction to an accepting, food-loving Orthodox woman may help heal her.
Why you might like it: Rachel's a stand-up comedian by night; this is a smart, funny book about love, religion, and body image.
Content warning: homophobia, disordered eating, and self-harm are all a part of Rachel's world.
The Removed by Brandon HobsonWhat it's about: a Cherokee family haunted by past and present traumas -- forced relocation, police violence, and grief, addiction, and dementia.
Narrated by: three members of the Echota family, as well as their ancestor Tsala, who died before the Trail of Tears.
About the author: Brandon Hobson is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma; his previous novel, Where the Dead Sit Talking, was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award.
The Kindest Lie by Nancy JohnsonWhat happens: Years after she gave up a baby for adoption, Ivy League-educated Black engineer Ruth Tuttle returns to her hometown to make peace with her past and find her son.
What she finds: a friendship with a lonely young white boy and a town in the midst of both an economic recession and increasing racial tensions.
For fans of: The Mothers by Brit Bennett or Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed MasoodStarring: rebellious, wise-cracking Pakistani immigrant Anvar, who becomes an underachieving lawyer in California; Iraqi refugee Azza, who barely escaped war-torn Baghdad and the wrath of her abusive father.
Read it for: a fast-paced, engaging account of two Muslim immigrants from different countries as they struggle with the expectations of their religious communities and wider America.
Is it for you? Though there are humorous moments (Anvar is quite the troublemaker), there's a lot to unpack here as well.
Honey Girl by Morgan RogersStarring: newly minted Ph.D. Grace Porter, who arrives in Las Vegas for a celebratory weekend and wakes up married to Yuki, a woman she'd only met the day before.
What happens: Struggling to find a job in Seattle, Grace heads to New York to see if this thing with Yuki has potential.
What it really is, tho: Yes, there's a romance, but Grace's real work is in figuring out who she is and what she wants as a queer Black woman in the very white, male world of academia.
Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev BalasubramanyamStarring: ambitious, internationally known economics professor Chandrasekhar (known to all as Chandra), who -- in a move that is wholly out of character -- decides to attend a meditation retreat.
What happens: An accumulation of tiny epiphanies ultimately challenges Chandra's perspective on his long-time prioritization of career over family.
Why you might like it: This is a complex book about an analytical man rethinking his choices, told with dry (and sometimes acerbic) humor.
Everywhere You Don't Belong by Gabriel BumpWhat it's about: the coming of age of young Claude McKay Love, raised by his civil rights activist grandmother and her gay best friend on Chicago's South Side.
Why you might like it: Told in short vignettes and focused on themes of racial injustice, this debut offers sharp humor, clever dialogue, and a relatable protagonist in awkward, uncomfortable Claude.
Reviewers say: Debut author Gabriel Bump "delivers a singular sense of growing up black that will resonate with readers" (Library Journal).
Fiebre Tropical by Juliana Delgado LoperaStarring: 15-year-old Francisca, a Colombian new to Miami who yearns to return home but must instead contend with her feelings for pastor's daughter Carmen and her mother's loosening grip on reality.
Why you might like it: Switching effortlessly between English and Spanish, this coming-of-age novel offers a spirited lead and a compelling tale of family, immigration, and forbidden desire.
For fans of: the young women's voices in Jenny Zhang's collection of Chinese and Taiwanese immigrant stories, Sour Heart.
A Star Is Bored by Byron LaneWhat happens: Charlie Besson, struggling with depression, finds a job as assistant to his childhood idol, actress Kathi Kannon, who has issues of her own.
Why you might like it: Gossipy, salacious, and often hilarious, this debut features two hurting people who nevertheless provide what the other needs -- some stability for Kathi, and a mentor and mother for Charlie.
About the author: Byron Lane was the late Carrie Fisher's personal assistant; he may have some personal experience to draw from here...
Nothing to See Here by Kevin WilsonWhat it's about: Lillian has agreed to watch her friend Madison's stepchildren for the summer. Twist: they burst into flames when upset.
What happens: Lillian, whose life has stalled ever since she was kicked out of school, has no experience with children. And yet she starts to love these two unloved kids.
Why you might like it: Flawed, quirky characters and offbeat humor make this a wry, engaging read.
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