What's Mine and Yours by Naima CosterWhat it is: a multi-generational family drama set in the Piedmont area of North Carolina between 1992 and 2018.
Read it for: a racially diverse cast of well-developed characters whose lives intersect over 30 years; a sweeping tale of two families grappling with race and racism.
For fans of: Mary Beth Keane's Ask Again, Yes, Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half, and Therese Fowler's A Good Neighborhood.
Raft of Stars by Andrew J. GraffWhat it is: an atmospheric and suspenseful coming-of-age story with shades of the film Stand By Me.
What happens: Thinking that they've killed a man, ten-year-old Fish and his best friend Bread flee into the deep Wisconsin forest and are tracked by four adults desperate to save them and each seeking answers of their own.
Reviewers say: debut author Andrew Graff "depicts the harsh Northwoods setting and his misfit characters’ inner lives with equal skill" (Publishers Weekly).
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo MbueThe situation: Since the 1980s, the fictional African village of Kosawa has been poisoned by an American oil company's leaking pipelines. After many requests for help are ignored, a small act of rebellion leads to decades of revolution.
What happens: Nothing much changes in Kosawa, as both the nation's despotic regime and the oil company ignore the villagers' pleas. Then Thula, who grew up in Kosawa in the '80s, returns from the U.S. determined to fight back.
Read it for: the links between environmental degradation and human rights.
Are We There Yet? by Kathleen WestWhat it is: a funny, often-relatable tale of motherhood and adolescent angst narrated by a handful of mothers, children, and grandparents.
The crux of the matter: Alice's life is not going well at home or at work, and the combination of 7th-grade drama and poor decision-making on social media throws her friendships with other mothers into a tailspin.
For fans of: the comedic takes on suburban angst in Laurie Gelman's Class Mom.
Giovanni's Room by James BaldwinWhat it is: This haunting 1956 novel by poet, essayist, and activist James Baldwin follows an American man in Paris who, struggling with his sexuality and separated from his girlfriend, becomes involved in an intense but doomed relationship with a young Italian bartender.
Read it for: poetic language and a better understanding of the fallout of society's historical repression of LGBTQIA identities.
Read this next: Sarah Winman's Tin Man or Edmund White's The Married Man.
Here Is the Beehive by Sarah CrossanWhat it is: a novel in verse that follows estate lawyer Ana as she comes to terms with the sudden death of Connor, her married lover and client.
About Ana: Married herself, Ana cannot grieve openly, and takes the audacious step of altering Connor's will and befriending his widow in an effort to keep him close a little longer.
Why you might like it: this free-form poem is a heart-wrenching exploration of guilt and grief.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine EvaristoWhat it is: a much-lauded portrayal of the broadness of the Black British experience through the stories of 11 women and one nonbinary person whose lives intertwine in sometimes surprising ways.
Read it for: vivid, unique characters; a finely tuned exploration of intersectionality; a mixture of prose and poetry; a history lesson.
Book buzz: This co-winner of the 2019 Man Booker Prize landed on too many "best of" book lists to count and also won Fiction Book of the Year at the 2020 British Book Awards. It's currently being adapted for television.
Everything Under by Daisy JohnsonWhat it is: a horror-tinged contemporary retelling of the ancient Greek play Oedipus Rex, which has its origins in epic poetry and myth.
What happens: After a long estrangement, English lexicographer Gretel reunites with her mother Sarah, who now suffers from dementia. Her reappearance will force Gretel to reckon with monsters from their shared past on a houseboat in Oxford.
For fans of: Maria Dahvana Headley's Beowulf adaptation The Mere Wife.
The Long Take: A Noir Narrative by Robin RobertsonWhat it is: an award-winning novel, written mostly in free verse and set in 1946 Los Angeles; a post-war portrait of that city; a Canadian veteran's disillusionment with himself and, even more so, the societal values he fought to protect.
For readers interested in: noir films; mid-century urban planning; novels of place (especially of LA and NYC); stark language; the history of nativism in the U.S.; the post-war years in general.
Conversations with Friends by Sally RooneyStarring: college students Frances, a poet, and Bobbi, her best friend and former lover, who fall in (and in love) with an older heterosexual couple, photographer Melissa and actor Nick.
It's complicated: Frances' secret (but "ironic") affair with Nick affects her relationship with Bobbi; the harm she's doing to herself by refusing to be vulnerable is only slowly revealed.
For more novels featuring poets: Chanelle Benz' The Gone Dead; Danzy Senna's New People.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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