Idaho, by Emily Ruskovich
This beautiful, poetic, intricate book is so much more than a murder mystery. Ann and Wade are married and live happily on a mountain on Idaho. But Wade can’t let go of his horrific past: His ex-wife Jenny is in jail for murdering his younger daughter, May, and his older daughter, June, has been missing ever since. Inspired by her own curiosity and her desire to help Wade, who suffers from early onset dementia, with his grief, Ann tries to piece together what happened on that fateful day. Don’t miss Ruskovich’s haunting debut about the power of forgiveness.
To buy: $19, amazon.com.
Selection Day, by Aravind Adiga
You don’t have to like (or understand) cricket to enjoy the latest outing from the Man Booker Prize-winning author of White Tiger. The novel follows the lives of Radha and Manju, two brothers coming of age in the slums of Mumbai. Both are talented cricket players and they have attracted the attention of a local scout. Seeing them as a way out of poverty, their father, Mohan, pushes them to reach their full potential with abuse and strict rules. But as their stars rise, Manju begins to long for more than life on the cricket pitch and he must wrestle with what he is willing to sacrifice for his father’s—and his own—dreams.
To buy: $22, amazon.com.
Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay
The Bad Feminist author returns with a stunning collection of short stories about women—headstrong, flawed, “difficult” women. Gay depicts women from many different backgrounds: as sisters, wives, doctors, strippers, monogamous, adulterous, repressed, and sexually liberated. But they have all have something in common. They have suffered injuries, ranging from physical trauma to daily microaggressions that inflict deep wounds over time. Difficult Women isn’t a collection of happily-ever-after stories, but they celebrate women who fight back and take up space in a world that tries to conquer them.
To buy: $19, amazon.com.
Lucky Boy, by Shanthi Sekaran
Two women from very different circumstances become forever entwined by a child in this moving novel. Born in a poor village in Mexico, Soli makes the harrowing journey across the border to begin a new life in America. Abandoned by her traveling companion, Soli makes it to Berkeley, Calif., pregnant and alone. In a parallel story, Kavya and her husband Rishi are struggling to conceive and have agreed to be foster parents after several failed attempts at IVF. When an accident leaves Soli in police custody, her son Ignacio is taken away and sent to live with Kavya and Rishi. As the couple moves to adopt Ignacio, who they call “Iggy,” Soli fights to get back to her son. Heartbreaking and timely, Lucky Boy explores motherhood and lengths we will go to in order to achieve our dreams.
To buy: $24.50, amazon.com.
The Dry, by Jane Harper
As a teenager, Aaron Falk and his father were run out of town after the death of a schoolmate. Decades later, Falk, now a federal agent, returns home to rural Kiwearra, Australia for the funerals of his best childhood friend, Luke, who has reportedly committed suicide after murdering his wife and their six-year-old son. The murder-suicide is deemed another casualty of the devastating drought that has afflicted the farming community, but Luke’s parents think something more sinister is at play and ask Falk to investigate the case. As Falk searches for the truth, it seems the two incidents might be linked in ways he didn’t predict. Harper writes with precision and creates a tense atmosphere on the brink of combustion.
To buy: $19, amazon.com.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney
The year 1984 is coming to a close and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish decides to take a walk through New York City. As she strolls through the streets of Manhattan, Lillian looks back on her life from her rise to the top ad writer at Macy’s to the fall of her failed marriage and her emotional breakdown. Along the way, she encounters a cast of colorful characters and reminisces about the city that has also changed through the years from the Prohibition era of speakeasies and jazz to the 1980’s AIDS epidemic and the rise of hip-hop. Inspired by the life of Margaret Fishback, a poet and Macy’s star ad writer of the 1930s, this novel beautifully depicts the evolution of a woman and the city she loves.
To buy: $23.50, amazon.com.
There’s No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to the People You Love, by Dr. Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell
When someone you care about loses a loved one, gets laid off from a job, or receives a scary diagnosis, it can be paralyzing trying to determine what to say or what to do. You want to help, but you might feel overwhelmed and afraid of saying the wrong thing, butting in, or not being helpful enough. Written by Emily McDowell, the brilliant illustrator and creator of Empathy Cards, and compassion expert Kelsey Crowe, Ph.D., this colorful book provides step-by-step guidance for how to act with empathy and compassion. Chock-full of ideas for small gestures that go along way (e.g., offering to move a neighbor’s car), sample dialogs, and workbook exercises, this book will to help hone your empathy skills and take the guesswork out of how to help someone who is suffering.
To buy: $23, amazon.com.
This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel
Claude Walsh-Adams is the youngest of five boys. He’s quirky, he’s clever, and, at three years old, he announces he wants to be a girl. His parents, doctor Rosie and novelist Penn, agree to let him wear dresses at home, but they worry about his safety and discourage him from expressing himself at school. By kindergarten, Claude is so miserable that they agree to let him become Poppy. When a horrific homophobic incident forces the family to move from Madison, Wisconsin to Seattle, the family keeps Poppy’s identity a secret, a decision that ultimately blows up when she hits puberty. Frankel, a mom to a transgender child herself, offers touching insight into the lengths parents and siblings will go to protect and support each other.
To buy: $20, amazon.com.
Rise, by Cara Brookins
In this moving, but tough, memoir, Brookins recounts her journey out of domestic violence into a new life with her four children. After escaping an abusive marriage to her second husband, Brookins and her children continued to live in fear that he might return. Plagued by trauma, anxiety, and financial hardship, the Little Rock, Arkansas-based computer analyst decided to build a house with her children ages 17, 15, 11, and 2. Armed with nothing more than YouTube how-to videos, a small loan, and carpentry supplies, the family literally puts themselves back together and builds a fresh start in this uplifting story of resilience.
To buy: $26, amazon.com.
4 3 2 1, by Paul Auster
The award-winning author of The New York Trilogy and The Brooklyn Follies returns after a seven-year hiatus with this ambitious coming-of-age novel. Clocking in at nearly 900 pages, Auster’s opus follows the life (or lives, rather) of Archie Ferguson from his birth on March 3, 1947 across four distinct storylines, each imagining a different life for Archie based on varying circumstances that befall him and his family: In one version, Archie’s father runs an appliance-store empire, in another his father owns a small repair shop, in yet another he dies. Written in complex, intricate sentences and paragraphs that often run more than a page, 4 3 2 1 explores the fine balance between nature vs. nurture and the role fate plays in our lives.
To buy: $32.50, amazon.com.