How to Walk Away by Katherine CenterWhat it's about: A devastating injury forces Maggie Jacobsen to reevaluate everything about her life and begin anew, with help from her estranged sister and her gruff physical therapist.
Why you might like it: Full of well-developed characters, How to Walk Away offers quietly inspiring moments (and humor) as Maggie's healing process unfolds along a realistic trajectory.
For fans of: Jojo Moyes' Me Before You.
The Ensemble by Aja GabelWhat it is: the story of four musicians whose many years together illuminate the range of human relationships.
Why you might like it: While the musical motif will draw musicians, the shared pasts of the four very different characters -- and their path from youth to middle age -- will appeal to readers of character-driven fiction.
For fans of: the evolving and close-knit relationships in Alice Adams' Invincible Summer or Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings.
Mr. Flood's Last Resort by Jess KiddWhat it is: Mystery? Gothic fiction? Ghost story? All of the above? You decide!
What it's about: Take one cranky hoarder in a falling-down mansion; add an unflappable, intelligent caretaker haunted (literally) by long-dead saints; mix in two missing girls and some tragic family history, and you've got the makings of an unusual, quirky, dark story full of Irish vernacular, smart humor...and lots of cats.
Why you might like it: Mr. Flood's Last Resort is equal parts oddly charming and deliciously creepy.
Sal by Mick KitsonStarring: resourceful 13-year-old Sal and her ten-year-old sister, Peppa, who have run away into the Scottish wilderness and plan to survive on their own.
Why you might like it: Having planned for this day for a year, Sal has plenty of survival skills for a girl her age (gleaned from YouTube) -- and some emotional trauma to heal from. Practical and creative, she's a character you'll root for.
Reviewers say: "Startling in its simplicity and immediacy" (Booklist).
The Mars Room by Rachel KushnerWhat it's about: After an altercation with a stalker turns fatal, stripper Romy Hall is sent to a women's prison for life. Inside, mind-numbing routine and casual violence is the norm, which Romy narrates with heartbreaking insight.
Reviewers say: A moving and unsettling portrayal of the failures of the American justice system, this novel "deserves to be read with the same level of pathos, love, and humanity with which it clearly was written" (Publishers Weekly).
You might also like: the short story collection The Graybar Hotel, by Curtis Dawkins, which also compassionately depicts life behind bars.
Life After Life by Kate AtkinsonStarring: Ursula Todd, born on a winter's night in 1910 England -- again and again, as each death brings her back to the same point in time and space. Does Ursula choose her paths in life, or do they choose her?
You might also like: Jo Walton's My Real Children, which also offers a haunting meditation on fate and free will by recounting an ordinary 20th-century British woman's alternate lives. Or try Laura Barnett's The Versions of Us, which considers the consequences of certain choices by sharing three different versions of a couple's lives, told in parallel.
After the Crash by Michel BussiWhat it's about: After a plane crashes in the Swiss Alps, a three-month-old baby is the only survivor. But is she Lyse-Rose de Carville, or Emilie Vitral? When a judge releases her to the impoverished Vitrals, the wealthy de Carvilles refuse to accept it.
Why you might like it: Told both in 1980, when the crash occurred, and 18 years later, as the private investigator hired by the de Carvilles finally determines the girl's identity, this novel by bestselling French writer Michel Bussi offers surprising twists, intrigue...and murder.
Before We Sleep by Jeffrey LentWhat it is: a coming-of-age story and a moving meditation on the effects of war.
What happens: Two parallel storylines unfold, one following Katey, a teenager in the 1960s, as she seeks to illuminate family secrets, and one in the late 1940s, as her father's return from World War II alters their family forever.
Read it for: strong characterization, descriptive writing, and two vividly depicted eras.
After You by Jojo MoyesWhat it's about: Eighteen months after the end of Me Before You, Louisa Clark is living in London, still deep in mourning and struggling to move on.
Is it for you? Did you love reading about Lou and her family in Me Before You? If so, you'll enjoy all the family dynamics at play in this sequel, which offers the same humor and well-developed characters that fans have come to love.
Series alert: The 3rd in the series, Still Me, published this past January.
Before I Go by Colleen OakleyStarring: Daisy Richmond, who the day before her third cancer-free anniversary learns that it's back -- and she has only months to live.
What happens: Though stricken by her diagnosis, Daisy is equally worried about how her husband will handle her death, and sets about finding a new wife for him.
Why you might like it: Though an incredibly emotional read (you'll want to have tissues handy), author Colleen Oakley includes plenty of humor in this tale of the different ways that humans handle grief.
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