Little Faith by Nickolas ButlerWhat it is: a moving, reflective novel in which a mother's involvement in religious extremism threatens her child's life. Inspired by real events, this is a thoughtful look at faith, love, family, and community.
Read it for: the beautifully depicted rural Wisconsin setting, fully developed characters, and descriptive writing.
Read this next: Robert Hillman's The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted, which is set in 1960s Australia and similarly focuses on a family torn apart by dangerous religious beliefs.
Queenie by Candice Carty-WilliamsStarring: young Jamaican British Queenie, who finds herself in a downward spiral after a relationship ends.
What happens: Dating disasters (the white men she meets tend to fetishize her) and impulsive decisions spell trouble, but Queenie has friends to lean on, and she eventually takes control of her mental health.
Reviewers say: "This smart, funny, and tender debut embraces a modern woman's messiness" (Booklist).
When All Is Said by Anne GriffinThe set-up: Maurice Hannigan, 84, sits at a bar and toasts his loved ones, none of whom are present.
What happens: With each toast he makes, Maurice dives deeply into his personal history, noting both the changes in his life and in his home of County Meath, Ireland.
For fans of: reflective, family-oriented novels that span decades.
That Time I Loved You: Stories by Carrianne LeungWhat it is: a compilation of linked short stories by Canadian author Carrianne Leung, who makes her U.S. debut with this book and uses suburban Toronto in 1979 as her setting.
Starring: June, the young daughter of Chinese immigrants, and other members of her community, many of whom are affected by racial and social prejudice.
Reviewers say: "crystalline prose, sharp storytelling, and pitch-perfect narration" (Publishers Weekly).
4 3 2 1 by Paul AusterHold on to your hats: This highly metafictional novel follows a single individual as he leads four very different parallel lives, marked by changes in intellect and skill, passions and partners, philosophies and careers.
For fans of: Decades-spanning epics like John Boyne's The Heart's Invisible Furies, or "what if" tales like Kate Atkinson's Life After Life and Jenny Erpenbeck's The End of Days (or, for a more romantic take, Laura Barnett's The Versions of Us).
Us Against You by Fredrik BackmanWhat it is: a follow-up to Beartown, in which the hockey-obsessed town risks losing its team (the rival town of Hed is just fine with this, since they'll benefit directly).
Why you might like it: Chock full of thorny issues (violence, political intrigue, the role of women), this moving novel is realistic in its depiction of small communities in economically troubled times.
Reviewers say: "engrossing" (Publishers Weekly).
Spoonbenders by Daryl GregoryStarring: the Telemachus family, which for generations has included psychics, clairvoyants, and astral projectors -- but it's only now that a host of folks (the CIA, the mafia, and at least one skeptic) are bent on its destruction.
Why you might like it: A quirky family with more than its share of troubles makes for engaging narrators, while a looming sense of disaster amps up the pace -- try it if you're looking for a family drama with just a little something extra.
Bellewether by Susanna KearsleyThe set-up: The Wilde House Museum is said to be haunted by the ghost of a French Canadian soldier (quartered against his will during the Seven Years' War) who fell in love with the daughter of the house.
What happens: As curator Charley Van Hoek investigates in the present day, a parallel narrative in 1759 reveals a star-crossed love story.
Is it for you? if you don't mind a hint of the supernatural in otherwise realistic fiction, Bellewether offers well-drawn characters, a romantic narrative that bridges two timelines, and plenty of gothic atmosphere.
Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice MonroeWhat it's about: Shy artist Heather is renting a gorgeous beach house in South Carolina's Isle of Palms; owner Cara wants to move back in after a terrible loss. As a compromise, the women will share the house for the remainder of the summer, eventually finding a source of strength in each other.
Why you might like it: Combining tales of self-discovery with an acute understanding of the environmental issues facing South Carolina's low country, this ongoing series is a sure bet for fans of Mary Kay Andrews or Dorothea Benton Frank.
The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey MooreThe opening scene: A famous bluesman returns home to Plainview, Indiana, to play the wedding of the local strip-club owner and the town's most fundamentalist Baptist. That guitarist turns out to be the father who abandoned Odette Henry's husband when he was just a boy.
Series alert: Odette and her two best friends, Clarice and Barbara Jean, first appeared in The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat; their return here is sure to please fans of optimistic, insightful novels centered on small-town friendships.
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