The Night Travelers by Armando Lucas CorreaWhat it is: a sweeping, character-driven family saga about sacrifice, separation, and survival.
Where it's set: Berlin as the Jazz Age ends and Nazism rises; Cuba at the beginning of the Revolution.
Reviewers say: “Readers will be deeply moved” Publishers Weekly).
The Secret Life of Sunflowers
by Marta Molnar
Braided stories: Emsley Wilson and Johanna Bonger (Vincent van Gogh's sister-in-law) live centuries apart, but Emsley finds comfort in the pages of the century's-old diary as her world seems to crumble around her.
For fans of: Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead.
Digital title available: Borrow the eBook from OverDrive or through the Libby app.
Independence by Chitra Banerjee DivakaruniStarring: sisters Deepa, Priya, and Jamini, whose sheltered lives are shattered when their Hindu family is displaced in the traumatic upheaval of the Partition of India.
Read it for: the well-developed, nuanced characterizations of each of the sisters and their rich inner lives.
Reviewers say: This “moving depiction of family life following great loss” (Kirkus Reviews) is “a must” (Publishers Weekly).
The Lipstick Bureau by Michelle GableWhat it's about: After her recent marriage to an American, Czech-born Niki Novotná joins the nascent OSS and becomes an unlikely linchpin in the agency's propaganda and sabotage operations in Rome during World War II.
Inspired by: Barbara Lauwers, a Czech-American lawyer, journalist, and operative known for her wartime work in Italy.
What you might like it: The Lipstick Bureau takes the time to thoughtfully explore the personal fallout of Niki’s high-stakes profession.
An Impossible Return by Caroline Laurent; translated by Jeffrey ZuckermanWhat it is: a haunting, heartwrenching story about love and loss against the backdrop of colonialist social and political upheaval.
The context: In order to build a joint US/UK military base, the indigenous inhabitants of the Chagos Islands were forcibly expelled from the islands in the 1960s.
Narrated by: spirited, engaging Marie, a young Chagossian whose love of her home is complicated by her love for (and eventual child with) Gabriel, a political secretary from neighboring Mauritius.
Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila MinnicksWhat it is: the thought-provoking story of the effects of the desegregation movement on a small, all-Black Alabama town that has thrived in its isolation.
How it starts: with a young Black woman getting off a bus to Birmingham in the titular town of New Jessup, where she is shocked to find it free of markers of the oppression she's used to.
Reviewers say: Moonrise is “highly recommended” and “would make a great movie” (Library Journal).
The Circus Train by Amita ParikhWhat it's about: Traveling across Europe with the circus her illusionist father works for, polio survivor Lena befriends Alexandre, a Jewish orphan who hides among the troupe to evade the Nazis.
What goes wrong: interpersonal and financial considerations lead to the ultimate betrayal, scattering members of the circus and sending others into hiding as they all try to survive the war.
For fans of: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen; The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski.
Night Wherever We Go by Tracey Rose PeytonWhat it's about: In the run-up to the Civil War, six Black women held as slaves on a bleak Texas plantation begin meeting secretly to pursue their shared interests and do anything they can to spite the cruel family who exploits them.
Is it for you? Night deals frankly with the realities of the lives of enslaved people, including the threat of sexual abuse that readers may prefer avoid or be aware of going in.
A Castle in Brooklyn by Shirley Russak WachtelStarring: Jacob Stein and Zalman Mendelson, who met as boys in Poland while hiding from the Nazis, both eventually making it to the US after the war.
How it starts: Zalman, who moved to Minnesota to become a farmer, visits Jacob in New York to rekindle their friendship, neither man aware how meeting again as adults will radically alter the course of both their lives for good.
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