PositiveBooklist... a warm, witty, wholehearted glimpse inside a parallel universe. Genuine and touching, Fisher’s narrative voice will appeal to fans of Kelly Harms, Lia Louis, and Julie Valerie. Exploring the power of believing in the impossible, Faye, Faraway is a delight.
PositiveBooklistLyrical and well-paced, matching the tone of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (1992), Kate Weinberg’s The Truants (2020), and Katie Lowe’s The Furies (2019), Before The Ruins spans decades among a fractured friend group. Gosling cleverly jumps backwards and forwards in time, unraveling Peter’s disappearance just as readers understand the depth of the friends’ secrets.
Julia Claiborne Johnson
PositiveBooklist[An] engrossing portrait of 1930s Reno, pulling in larger-than-life characters inspired by historical records ... Fans of Naomi Wood, Laura Madeleine, and Nicole Meier will adore this witty and charming slice of life.
RaveBooklistAs friends, neighbors, and acquaintances filter in and out of the chip shop, the complexities of life in Aghybogey are revealed. Gallen has crafted a darkly comic novel about an isolated young woman struggling to find her place in a town still deeply divided in a post-Troubles world. Majella is a nuanced and complicated heroine, reliant on routines and largely dismissive of change. Infused with local diction, inflection, and slang, her voice envelops readers in the sounds of small-town Ireland. Fans of Sara Baume’s novels and the Irish TV series Derry Girls will adore this complex, clever, and deeply moving debut novel.
PositiveBooklistFans of Tara French, Kimberly Belle, and Orange is the New Black will fall under this book’s spell ... Terse and tense, Little Threats investigates righteous anger, teenage angst, and the enormity of setting the record straight.
RaveBooklistA riveting family saga that fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Cristina Alger, and Maria De Los Santos will devour, Clancy’s debut novel is a delight. She flips between decades, immersing the reader in sun-soaked Wellfleet summers before traveling to the present day and back again. With nostalgia as thick as the scent of coconut-scented sunscreen, The Second Home explores the consequences of emotional decisions and the strength needed to set things right.
PositiveBooklistBrown...offers a glittering, high-stakes drama, stacking childhood nostalgia against the power to reinvent oneself in the age of social media. Packed with plot twists, this casts a deep spell for fans of the 2013 book-turned-film The Bling Ring.
RaveBooklistImbued with the dust, grit, and grime of Galveston at the close of the Civil War, Simon the Fiddler immerses readers in the challenges of Reconstruction. Jiles...brings her singular voice to the young couple’s travails, her written word as lyrical and musical as Simon’s bow raking over his strings. Loyal Jiles readers and fans of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See (2014), and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge (2008) will adore the author’s latest masterpiece.
PositiveBooklistA cutting and witty examination of modern parenting that excels in suburban relatability, West’s debut novel will pique the curiosity of fans of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012) and Jean Hanff Korelitz’s Admission (2009).
PositiveBooklistWhile many of us may feel that our internal age doesn’t match our external appearance, Montimore...takes that conceit to its witty, humorous, heartwarming extreme. Imbued with musical and cultural influences spanning decades and reminiscent of Lianne Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot (2011) and Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life (2013), Oona Out of Order is a delightfully freewheeling romp.
PositiveBooklist... full of the sorts of characters that loyal readers of Mary Alice Monroe and Richard Russo will adore. This cozy, never-maudlin exploration of life after death lets Henny see long-lost friends reunite, and feel the heartbreak of new love from a world just out of reach. Much like its heroine, Bivald’s charming, heartwarming, and thought-provoking novel will linger long after the last page is turned.
RaveBooklistWith intrigue sparking throughout, Weinberg’s immensely compelling debut novel explores the years-long reverberations of a fractured friend group and echoes Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (1992), Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004), Richard Russo’s Straight Man (1997), and Katie Lowe’s The Furies (2019). The mystery at the novel’s core befits Agatha Christie, another academic focus of Clay’s, and unravels at a nearly perfect pace. Spanning Jess’s university years and beyond, this slow burn of a novel explores the headiness of favoritism and the danger in meeting one’s heroes.
PositiveBooklistValerie’s witty, rollicking novel is an ode to modern motherhood in the vein of Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It (2002) and Francesca Segal’s The Awkward Age (2017). While the plot pacing lags a bit, Holly’s journey from shrinking violet to confident kindergarten parent will entertain until the last page. Holly’s rich inner world and a larger-than-life ensemble of supporting characters plant this novel firmly in the dark comedy camp, and it is perfect for fans of Matthew Norman and Francie Arenson Dickman. A charmingly cautionary tale of the pursuit for domestic perfection.
Daniel Jose Older
PositiveBooklistThis sweeping cross-generational saga from YA and adult fantasy author Older...immerses readers in the thrilling, heartbreaking history of one Cuban American family. Marisol is an effectively omniscient narrator, weaving memories of years past and predictions for her family’s future into the contemporary story. With lyricism and atmosphere, Older skillfully emphasizes tone over plot. Fans of Lucinda Reilly, Judith Kinghorn, and Richard C. Morais will find themselves lost in Ramón’s haunting, melancholy, and undeniably inspiring journey.
Christine Feret-Fleury, Trans. by Ros Schwartz
PositiveBooklistFéret-Fleury’s first novel published in English will speak to fans of Nina George and Kate Atkinson, and any reader who loves getting lost in a secondhand bookshop. The author’s love of the written word comes through on from every page. Relatively light on plot but packed with atmosphere, this ode to finding the right book at the right time comes with its own suggested reading list for those hoping to widen their literary horizons.
PositiveBooklistLowe’s dark, suspenseful debut combines the teenage sisterhood of The Craft and Emma Cline’s The Girls (2016) with the violent schoolyard vengeance of Heathers. Poetic, lurid prose captures the girls’ teenage self-possession, while a heady swirl of adolescent hormones, drugs, and alcohol adds a layer of distortion to the plot. The pacing swings between languid and rapid fire, adding to the off-balance feel of Elm Hollow. Fans of Greer Macallister, Paula Hawkins, and Janelle Brown will devour Violet’s journey.
PositiveBooklistDavis...writes this compelling portrait of female friendship through some of the most dramatic decades in history, weaving true events, romance, intrigue, and the long-felt effects of blacklisting. The scope and scale of this sweeping novel will please historical fiction aficionados and fans of Chris Greenhalgh’s Seducing Ingrid Bergman...and Alexander Rosenberg’s The Girl from Krakow.
PositiveBooklistWith the character-driven charm of Lianne Moriarty’s and Sara Baume’s novels, and a pastoral English setting befitting Lucinda Riley and Judith Kinghorn, Prior’s debut probes the inner workings of two very different minds. Empathetic to its core, it’s a delightfully heart-warming glimpse inside a lushly imagined world. Tender, free-spirited, and guaranteed to tug at readers’ heartstrings.
J. Ryan Stradal
RaveBooklistA love story to Minnesota, craft beer, and the power of second chances, Stradal’s second novel goes down easy. Perspective shifts among Helen, Edith, and Diana, letting each woman speak for herself and allowing their narratives to build off one another, despite the non-linear timeline. Imbued with Midwestern references and the importance of a \'can-do\' attitude, this warm, witty novel will appeal to fans of Curtis Sittenfeld and Meg Wolitzer.
PositiveBooklistReaders aching for the sun-dappled intrigue of André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name (2007) or the wit of Francine Prose’s Blue Angel (2000) will find a kindred reading experience here. Although some romantic entanglements ring a bit hollow, Eve’s youthful optimism is entirely believable. Mixing ambivalence, nostalgia, and the power of innocence in an idyllic setting, this journey of self-discovery is an ideal summer read for those who might shun more typical \'beach-read\' offerings.
PositiveBooklistMechling’s whip-smart portrait of female friendship is perfect for fans of Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings (2013) and Beverly Gologorsky’s Every Body Has a Story (2018). Mechling excavates the layers of envy, support, and respect that fill the cracks in any long-term relationship. With an insider’s view of today’s media landscape, How Could She is a delight.
PositiveBooklist... George crafts an empathetic and emotionally stunning novel. Never preachy or maudlin, this deep dive into some of life’s most haunting questions will appeal to fans of Isabel Allende and Mary Simses.
PositiveBooklistBlending historical fact with a fictional coming-of-age story, Wood has crafted an ambitious, meticulously researched, and imaginative debut novel that is engrossing and compelling. Exploring the shared sisterhood of the quintuplets’ caretakers and the trouble with unwanted celebrity, this heartwarming novel will win over loyal readers of Patricia Harman, Jodi Picoult, and Carol Cassella.
PositiveBooklistExploring the complexities of faith and family, Butler also tackles the power and pitfalls of devout Christianity. Fans of Richard Russo and Jan Karon will appreciate Butler’s sense of place, which lets seasonal shifts and harvest cycles propel the novel forward. Little Faith is quietly and deeply moving.
PositiveBooklistumping between Katie’s flashbacks and the present day, Schumann crafts a powerfully compelling story of family loyalties, teenage friendships, and the fickleness of memory. Timely and provocative, this first novel will appeal to fans of Lianne Moriarty, Paula Hawkins, and Jenna Blum.
PositiveBooklistPowerful and poetic ... Zgheib never lets Anna’s diagnosis define her but convincingly allows it to inform every decision her character makes. Instead of tying up Anna’s journey with a neat bow, the novel’s resolution is tentative, hopeful, and realistic. Zgheib’s lyrical, dream-like style, the perfect match for Anna’s alternately foggy and focused thought processes, will resonate with fans of Wally Lamb’s and Anne Tyler’s novels and Augusten Burroughs’ memoirs.
PositiveBooklistThough this is a stand-alone, Downing’s loyal readers will appreciate the depth and breadth of Mark’s character arc more than 20 years after his introduction, in Perfect Agreement. Depicting striving adjuncts, grade-grubbing students, and smug professors, Downing fearlessly pokes at the least glamorous aspects of academia. Fans of Richard Russo, Francine Prose, and Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members will enjoy Downing’s clear-eyed view from the ivory tower.
RaveBooklist\"Dangerous debris from the Columbia space-shuttle disaster rains across a swath of east Texas, leaving twisted metal in the streets of small-town Kiser and more horrifying remains caught in the trees of its Piney Woods ... Characters’ distinct motivations and hardships, and their stories differing narrative styles, ultimately weave a fuller picture. Fans of Thomas Pierce and Amy Hill Hearth will appreciate Schwille’s spare, poetic prose and her willingness to examine both the picturesque and the unsavory sides of small-town life. A deeply thought-provoking novel.
PositiveBooklistWriting in the vein of Liane Moriarty, Kimberly Belle, and Mary Kubica, Baart explores the toughest questions around motherhood, marriage, and the secrets we keep. Baart lets her protagonist be messy, paranoid, and frustrating, allowing new discoveries to come with surprising costs. Although the novel could benefit from tighter pacing, plenty of twists and turns propel the story forward.
Heather Taylor Johnson
PositiveBooklistSure to be popular among fans of Liane Moriarty and Sarah Pekkanen, this tender, witty novel dives into the life of an amazing woman by exploring the grief of those she’s left behind. Johnson’s ability to bring the diverse voices and viewpoints of the supporting characters to life is admirable, especially in a novel of this size.
PositiveBooklist\"The sleepy town of Hatchet Inlet, Minnesota, is finally waking up from a long, frigid winter. Residents gather at Pavola’s diner, eager to chat about the waitress’ upcoming wedding; to mourn the loss of two bright young women in a car wreck; and to wager on when stubborn recluse Rauri Paar will make his seasonal trek back into town. Rauri spends winters alone on the private land that’s been grandfathered out of inclusion in the million-acre wilderness called the Reserve. The small-town gossip mill starts churning when Rauri doesn’t show up, and more than a few residents begin to suspect foul play ... Stonich’s slow burn of a novel questions what—and who—can belong to us.
PositiveBooklist\"Through the strengths and vulnerabilities of these three very different women, Matson explores the motivations behind motherhood, matrimony, and career ambitions. Fans of Anne Tyler and Geraldine Brooks will enjoy the intertwined, intergenerational narratives; historical details; and emotional depth of this engrossing novel.\
RaveBooklist\"Kiesling’s first novel encapsulates the intense and often conflicting feelings of early parenthood: frustration, tenderness, isolation. By playing with punctuation and sentence structure, Kiesling immerses the reader in the fragile headspace of the anxious new mother. With a style reminiscent of Claire Vaye Watkins and Sarah Stonich, The Golden State sparks the lovely, lonely feelings inside us all.\
RaveBooklistA perfectly paced domestic drama centered on two lovely, lonesome people, Ghosted is a brilliant debut novel that explores the power of fate. Writing like a British cousin of Liane Moriarty or Maria Semple, Walsh has a gift for blending complex characters, intricate backstories, and neck-snapping plot twists.
PositiveBooklistFans of Meg Wolitzer, Emma Straub, or Berg’s previous novels will appreciate the richly complex characters and clear prose. Redemptive without being maudlin, this story of two misfits lucky to have found one another will tug at readers’ heartstrings.
RaveBooklistReaders who grew up with Lemony Snicket’s Baudelaire children, or those who enjoyed the magical intrigue of Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, will adore this enchanting, engrossing, and exhilarating novel.
RaveBooklistBlending high-stakes economic intrigue with high-class family drama, Our Little Racket is a sweeping and immersive novel. Baker fully inhabits each of her characters, voicing each with depth and breadth. Though Bob is nominally the center of the story, teenage and tenacious Madison has the most satisfying story arc. Fans of Cristina Alger’s The Darlings (2012) and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest (2016) will enjoy this engrossing and illuminating glimpse into Greenwich’s upper crust.
RaveBooklistThose familiar with author Quick will recognize elements of the complex and unflinchingly honest protagonist that appeared in The Silver Linings Playbook, and fans of Matthew Norman and Greg Olear will enjoy David’s introspection and self-preservation. Quick’s prose is sharp and cutting, perfectly suited to David’s brash persona. The Reason You’re Alive is a compact powerhouse of a novel. Though brief, it’s subversive, unexpected, and utterly compelling.
PositiveBooklistThe novel’s creative structure feels incredibly personal, since Karen isn’t afraid to editorialize. Grodstein manages to walk the fine line between pathos and melodrama by painting Karen as a fully realized mother, sister, and friend, never allowing the cancer to consume her complex identity. Fans of Camille Pagán’s Life and Other Near-Death Experiences will love Karen’s unflinchingly honest journey.