In case you haven’t heard, October is National Reading Group Month! This month is all about book clubs and celebrating how good books bring people together. My book club is participating by reading Lisa See’s THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE—one of the many amazing 2017 Great Group Reads selections. And there are so many more fantastic book club books out there! Here are 12 I’m really excited about.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is offered a 50-dollar gold piece to deliver Johanna, a 10-year-old orphan, to her relatives in San Antonio. In the four years since her parents were killed by a band of Kiowa raiders, Johanna has come to call the Kiowa her family. Arriving in San Antonio after a 400-mile journey back to relatives Johanna doesn’t remember, Captain Kidd is forced to make a choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become a kidnapper himself.
On Amy’s wish list
As a lover of American history, thanks in large part to watching the nine VHS tapes of Ken Burns’s “Civil War” over and over again, I would love to get this novel for Christmas. This post-civil war fiction takes place in Texas and follows a surly aging Captain as he escorts a rebellious young girl back to her family. It sounds like the unlikely but heartwarming match ups in PAPER MOON and TRUE GRIT, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
In SING, UNBURIED, SING, Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning SALVAGE THE BONES, 13-year-old Jojo and his younger sister accompany their mother on a road trip through Mississippi to pick up their father from the state penitentiary. This evocative family saga examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power—and limitations—of family bonds. This is the book my book club can’t wait to read next.
A historical novel inspired by true events, ORPHAN #8 is the fascinating story of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when she encounters the doctor who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments in a New York City Jewish orphanage years before. (P.S. Kim van Alkemade’s new historical fiction novel, BACHELOR GIRL, is being published in March 2018!)
On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs and sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children. Although she keeps it to herself, Salma’s prediction soon comes true as the family is uprooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967. SALT HOUSES is a remarkable debut novel that challenges an age-old conflict and asks readers to confront the most devastating of all truths: you can’t go home again.
Isma accepts an invitation to pursue her dreams in America, but she can’t stop worrying about the younger siblings she leaves behind: Aneeka, her beautiful but headstrong sister living in London, and Parvaiz, her brother who disappeared and submitted himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. Then the son of a powerful political figure enters the picture, pushing both families to a breaking point. HOME FIRE is an incredible story of an immigrant family driven to pit love against loyalty, with devastating consequences.
It’s New York in 1888. A young lawyer named Paul Cravath takes on a new client who is being sued by Thomas Edison for claiming to have invented the light bulb. In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with a flawless opera singer and an eccentric inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison. Based on actual events, this is a thrilling historical novel about the nature of genius and the cost of ambition.
Reclusive literary author Mimi Banning is forced to write a new book for the first time in decades after losing all of her money in a fraudulent scheme. When the publisher’s assistant—sent to ensure the timely delivery of Mimi’s manuscript—arrives, she is put to work as a companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old. BE FRANK WITH ME is a lovable story of an unusual mother and son and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their world.
What do you do with an “eccentric” child whose personal style recalls 1930s Hollywood? What do you do with his mother, a J. D. Salinger–type author who, after falling prey to a Ponzi scheme, must hire someone to take care of her son while she finishes her long-awaited second book? In short, BE FRANK WITH ME is a sweet story of a family, born and made, in all its unconventionality.
An ambitious, exuberant novel moving from northwest London to West Africa, SWING TIME follows the lives of two brown girls who dream of being dancers. Only one of the girls has talent, but the other has ideas. What results is a story of close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly when the two girls reach their early twenties, but is never quite forgotten.
The latest work from Zadie Smith—one of the most prolific writers on race and identity of our time—follows two brown girls who dream of being dancers. SWING TIME moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, and the origins of a profound inequality are not just a matter of distant history.
Sisters Ada, Vivie, and Bec have assembled at their beloved family cottage at “Bagel Beach” for the summer of 1948 when a terrible accident occurs. AS CLOSE TO US AS BREATHING is the story of this tragedy and its long-lasting reverberations as told through the eyes of Molly, who was 12 years old when she witnessed the accident. Decades later, Molly is desperate to draw from her aunt Bec’s hard-won wisdom and free herself from the burden of that day.
Sisters Ada, Vivie, and Bec gather each summer at their family cottage in Connecticut at “Bagel Beach,” with children in tow and weekend-only husbands who arrive each Friday in time for the Sabbath meal. But a tragic accident the summer of 1948 irreparably alters the long-established family equilibrium. This debut novel is a beautiful meditation on grief, guilt, and the boundaries of identity and love.
DARKTOWN is a gripping and suspenseful novel about what happens when the Atlanta Police Department is forced to hire its first black officers: Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith. When a woman last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up dead, Boggs and Smith suspect white cops are behind it. This intricately plotted crime saga explores the timely issues of race, law enforcement, and the uneven scales of justice.
Spanning three continents and 300 years, THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS is the rich tale of a female painter who defies the expectations of her time and Ellie Shipley, a struggling art student who agrees to forge Sara de Vos’s only remaining painting and finds herself entangled with a dubious art dealer. Almost 50 years after forging the painting, Ellie is a celebrated art historian and curator. But all that could change when Ellie realizes both her forgery and the original painting are en route to her museum.
In this page-turning saga, which was recently shortlisted for the National Book Award, four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family fight to control their destiny in twentieth-century Japan, exiled from a home they never knew. It all begins in the early 1900s when teenaged Sunja realizes she is pregnant. Discovering her lover is married, Sunja refuses to be bought and instead accepts an offer of marriage from a sickly minister passing through, abandons her home, and ultimately rejects her son’s powerful father.