The Crane Husband by Kelly BarnhillWhat it is: a "dark and engrossing" (Publishers Weekly) retelling of the Japanese folktale "The Crane Wife," set in a Midwestern farming town.
Why you might like it: Tension builds as the unnamed 15-year-old narrator recounts how her artist mother's lover, an enormous crane, moved in and began to terrorize the family.
For fans of: Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories or Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties.
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
New release: Out of prison in 2019 after decades inside, Steven "Smithy" Smith records his thoughts as he digs into an old mystery: 40 years ago his remedial English teacher disappeared after suggesting that Edith Twyford's classic children's books include an unsolved code.
Why you might like it: Cleverly told via computer-generated transcriptions of Smithy's iPhone voice memo diaries, The Twyford Code nevertheless manages to have a Golden-Age feel.
That ending: "extraordinary" (Booklist); "truly gaspworthy" (Kirkus Reviews); "a bravura final section" (New York Times).
The Ingenue by Rachel Kapelke-Dale
The setup: Former piano prodigy Saskia Kreis endured a rigid, emotionally isolated childhood. Now an adult, she must return home to Milwaukee to settle her mother's affairs.
What goes wrong: Saskia learns her mother has willed the family fortune to an ex-colleague, a man whom Saskia loathes with good reason.
Is it for you? The Ingenue deals frankly with predatory grooming, sexual abuse, and the trauma that survivors like Saskia carry into adulthood.
Roses, In the Mouth of a Lion by Bushra Rehman
What happens: After changing schools, Razia -- a young Pakistani American woman -- questions her conservative Muslim upbringing and falls in love with a fellow student, Angela.
Read it for: Razia's 1980s transformation into queer teen rebel, with a side of nostalgic pop culture references.
Try this next: Dominicana by Angie Cruz or Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend.
Decent People by De'Shawn Charles Winslow
What's inside: This evocative follow-up to the author's literary debut, In West Mills, takes place in the same North Carolina town, but this time, the character-driven plot revolves around a terrible crime.
A triple murder: In 1976, a wealthy Black doctor and her two siblings are shot in their family home. Their half brother is a prime suspect and everyone in town is talking, so his fiancée, newly retired and home after years in New York City, digs into the case, picking at town secrets.
Reviewers say: "propulsive...a murder mystery that doubles as a savvy examination of race and class" (Los Angeles Times).
On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe by Caroline Dodds Pennock
What it is: a thought-provoking revisionist history that explores how Indigenous Americans who willingly traveled or were forcibly transported to Europe during the Age of Discovery impacted the politics and culture of their colonizers.
Read it for: a well-researched account of the Colonial period that eschews Eurocentric narratives and prioritizes the perspectives of colonized populations.
Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives by Siddharth Kara
What it is: the first book-length exposé on the abusive and inhumane cobalt mining practices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is home to nearly 75% of the world's cobalt supply.
Why it matters: The demand for cobalt, an essential component of rechargeable batteries for laptops, cell phones, and more, comes at the expense of the Congolese people, who are exploited into child labor, forced labor, and slavery.
The Love You Save: A Memoir by Goldie Taylor
What it is: Daily Beast editor Goldie Taylor's compelling memoir detailing how she persevered in the face of her traumatic coming-of-age.
Is it for you? Though Taylor's chronicle ends on a hopeful note, her journey toward healing included grappling with rape, pregnancy and miscarriage, suicide attempts, and her father's murder.
Book buzz: The Love You Save was named one of The Root's Most Anticipated Books of January, a Good Morning America Best Book of January, and an Essence Must Read Book of the Year.
Reckoning by V, formerly Eve Ensler
What it is: a powerful, decades-spanning collection of essays, poems, journal entries, and articles penned by V (formerly Eve Ensler), the Tony Award-winning playwright of The Vagina Monologues.
Is it for you? V's impassioned chronicle frankly addresses difficult topics including grief, addiction, reproductive justice, sexual violence, and more.
Book buzz: This "elegant and timely book" (Kirkus Reviews) was named a Top 10 Memoir of the Season by Publishers Weekly.
Promise Boys by Nick Brooks
The crime: the murder of Kenneth Moore, principal of Washington, D.C.'s Urban Promise Prep.
The suspects: three students. Trey, a jokester basketball player who supposedly supplied the gun; Ramon, a future chef whose hairbrush was found at the scene; and J.B., a quiet guy covered in the principal's blood. To clear their names, the boys must identify the killer themselves.
For fans of: Jason Reynolds' examinations of systemic injustice and Karen McManus' twisty thrillers.
Once Upon a Book by Grace Lin and Kate MessnerWhat it's about: Feeling cranky and cooped up due to bad weather, Alice opens a book and is drawn into a wonder-filled journey across the far-flung locations in its pages.
Look for: the pattern on Alice's dress, which constantly changes to suit her environment; and the little rabbit who accompanies her from place to place.
For fans of: the imaginative atmosphere and vibrant, immersive illustrations in Aaron Becker's Journey trilogy.
Finally Seen by Kelly Yang
Then: Five years ago, Lina's parents and sister moved from Beijing to Los Angeles, leaving Lina with her grandmother.
Now: Lina joins her family in America, but it's not the dream life she expected. Her family is poor, she misses her grandma, and kids at school are mean about her English.
Why you might like it: This moving, realistic story about finding friendship and confidence in a new place might be relatable, especially if you've immigrated or moved like Lina.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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Owensboro, Kentucky 42301