Summer often feels like the beginning of reading season. I find I get asked for book recommendations more during these fleeting months than during the rest of the year. Everyone seems eager to add a paperback to their packing list for vacations, weekend trips, or nice days in the park. This month has a plethora of fantastic new paperback releases, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
This debut novel is a profoundly moving story told with extraordinary language. Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At 14, she lives an isolated life with her tortured and charismatic father. Since the death of her mother, her social existence is limited to her school and her father. When Turtle meets Jacob, a young boy who is enthralled with her, she starts to imagine a life beyond her confines. Readers will watch as this teenage girl fights to become her own hero. With a backdrop of the northern California coast, this urgently told novel is extraordinary.
If you're looking for a dark, twisty, atmospheric novel this summer, look no further than Catherine Burns' debut THE VISITORS. Perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Ruth Ware, this is the story of Marion Zetland. Marion lives with her domineering older brother John in a decaying Georgian townhouse, and does her best to shut out the shocking secret he keeps in the cellar. When John suddenly has a heart attack, Marion is forced to go down to the cellar herself and face the gruesome truth that her brother has kept hidden. This novel is haunting and sinister, with a twist you won't see coming.
MANHATTAN BEACH is Jennifer Egan's first historical fiction, but you wouldn't know it from reading these dazzling, propulsive pages. When Anna Kerrigan is 12 years old, she accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, and notices some charged mystery between the two men. Years pass, her father has disappeared, and the country is at war. Anna becomes one of the first women to work at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now that they're all fighting in Europe and the Pacific. When she unexpectedly meets Dexter Styles again, she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life and the reasons he might have vanished. This is a magnificent exploration of a transformative moment in America's history.
For anyone who, like me, was completely hooked by the book (and film) PRACTICAL MAGIC, Alice Hoffman's latest novel is a must-read. THE RULES OF MAGIC is the prequel to PRACTICAL MAGIC, and takes us back to when Franny and Jet were children growing up in 1960s New York with a love curse looming over them. In this illuminating prequel we watch Franny, Jet and Vincent grow up, at first forbidden from magic, and then embracing it after a stay with their Aunt Isabelle in that infamous house in the small Massachusetts town. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the memorable aunts in PRACTICAL MAGIC, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. This is ultimately a thrilling, irresistible story about being true to oneself.
Abby Williams leaves her small town of Barrens, Indiana and never thinks she'll go back. Working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has the life she thought she wanted. But when a case takes her back home, Abby's investigation turns up strange links to Barrens' biggest scandal from years ago—involving her close friends and the popular Kaycee Mitchell—just before Kaycee disappeared for good. BONFIRE is full of slow-burning suspense, and Krysten Ritter writes Barrens as a perfectly claustrophobic small town that keeps getting smaller.
If you follow Reese Witherspoon's book club picks, you likely saw this humorous novel on her list when it came out in hardcover. Eleanor Oliphant is fine, and she never thought life should be anything other than just that: fine. She struggles with social skills and has carefully structured her life in a way so as to avoid social interactions. When a chance encounter with Raymond, the bumbling IT tech from her office sets her world spinning, they rescue one another from their own isolated lives. This is a smartly-written, deadpan-funny, irresistibly warm novel.