Leave the World Behind by Rumaan AlamWhat happens: A white family staying in a rented Hamptons home finds their idyllic vacation cut short by the arrival of the owners, an older Black couple hoping to take refuge from a power outage in New York City.
Then what? Though suspicion and resentment (on both sides) are their initial reactions, the two families form an uneasy alliance as it becomes clear that the blackout -- and other disquieting occurrences -- may be a sign of societal collapse.
Reviewers say: "This illuminating social novel offers piercing commentary on race, class and the luxurious mirage of safety" (Publishers Weekly).
Memorial by Bryan WashingtonStarring: Mike, a Japanese American chef, and Ben, a Black daycare teacher; their rocky relationship is further tested when Mike goes to Japan to spend time with his estranged and dying father, leaving his visiting mother with Ben.
Why you might like it: Set in a vividly depicted Houston and told in three distinct sections narrated by either Mike or Ben, this bittersweet, complex novel portrays the messy, passionate, and sometimes painful relationships between lovers; the two men's difficult relationships with their fathers are also key to the story.
Less by Andrew Sean GreerStarring: less-than-successful novelist Arthur Less, who's invited to his ex-boyfriend's wedding less than a year after their breakup.
What does he do? Not wanting to go but so far lacking a compelling reason to send his regrets, he accepts every other invitation that comes his way, traveling to New York, Mexico, Morocco, and other far-flung destinations.
Why you might like it: With a surprising narrator (you'll find out who at the end) and flawed but sympathetic characters, this engaging Pulitzer Prize winner is a poignant meditation on the universal search for love and happiness.
Motherhood by Sheila HetiWhat it is: an examination of motherhood and the very personal decision of whether to become a mother.
What happens: The narrator consults the I Ching and a tarot deck while also reflecting on her relationship with her boyfriend and on her own mother's experiences, all in service of determining whether she too should try for a child.
Reviewers say: bestselling author Sheila Heti "writes with courage, curiosity, and uncommon truth" (Booklist).
Himself by Jess KiddStarring: Irish charmer Mahony, a young man who can communicate with the dead, has returned to the insular rural village where he was born after learning that his mother -- who he thought had left him at an orphanage as a baby -- may actually have been murdered.
Why you might like it: Like the best fairytales, this spellbinding story has plenty of whimsy, magic, and darkness.
For fans of: Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Remembrance by Mary MonroeStarring: frustrated Beatrice Powell, who has a good marriage and a successful volunteer role at her local homeless shelter, but finds herself at loose ends each Christmas as she remembers the stranger who'd once saved her life.
Just in time for the holidays! For more Christmas-centric novels featuring Black women embracing change, try bestselling author Mary Monroe's most recent book The Gift of Family or Kimberla Lawson Roby's more faith-oriented A Christmas Prayer.
Ghosted by Rosie WalshWhat happens: After an intense and romantic week together, Eddie and Sarah are making plans for their future. So it's a shock when Eddie abruptly stops returning Sarah's calls and texts.
But why? Though her friends insist she's been ghosted, Sarah doesn't want to give up so easily. But the truth, when it comes out, is far more complicated than expected.
What reviewers said: "Walsh has a good ear for dialogue, and the mystery behind Eddie’s disappearance is a particularly satisfying one." (The New York Times Book Review).
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