Luster might be my favorite book of year. It presents a human rawness, a link between making art and a need to connect. Edie loses her job and then her apartment and finds herself in what might be the most uncomfortable situation—living in the house of the married man she's been sleeping with, but he's not there, only his wife and adopted daughter are home.
Bad things keep happening to Owen Pick or so he thinks that his behavior has nothing to do with getting fired from his teaching position, questioned by the police about the assaults in the neighborhood, or about his eventual arrest. The women are lying, making it all up. Until Valentine's Day, women seem to run from him, but he has the most amazing date where he drinks too much. On his way home he sees the strange girl named Saffyre standing outside his neighbor's house. She goes missing that night and Owen can't remember what happened. Did he do something he didn't know he was capable of? Why is her blood outside his window?
Campbell, Indiana is obsessed with prom season and Liz Lightly, having missed out on a music scholarship to her first-choice school, finds herself signing up because there's a $10,000 scholarship prize. While she has a fallout with her best friend, dodges the school's own social media account, and reunites with an old best friend, she also hangs out with the new girl, Mack. Mack's a drummer and seems to really like her. This book is so sweet and fun and really refilled my heart.
A young girl is found on the side of a highway outside a Texas town known for a famous double murder. The man who picks her up and brings her home, is the same man who is the suspect. He is hunted daily, followed by fans and haters alike, so of course someone reports him with the girl. Officer Odette Tucker sets out for his house and towards the history they share. She finds the girl sitting on his couch, untouched, and Odette can't look away. The girl is missing an eye. Odette shares the story of her missing leg. We are All the Same in the Dark is a deep psychological thriller with many turns and everyone looking to prove something.
Emily can't get it together until her former boss, Scott Denny, offers her a job helping his wife restore his family's countryside home in France. The place is quiet and no one else is around except for Scott's wife, his daughter, and the handyman. There's a weird smell and that could just be the old house. And the child is strange or sick or afraid? Emily can't quite put her finger on it.
Almost like the game of Clue, the party arrives on a small island off Ireland for the wedding of TV's newest star of Survival and his very successful bride, Jules. As a storm surges in the channel, the power goes out and a waitress returns to tell everyone she's found a body. The perfect wedding is ruined. Told between alternating chapters of now and then, the story of their pasts seep to the surface and past allegiances are broken.
Nina, who has spent the last couple years of her life stealing from the rich to pay for her mother's cancer treatments, finds a mark in Vanessa, the sister of her first boyfriend, Benny. Nina needs one last big payday and remembers that Benny's father kept a million dollars in cash in a safe at the family's ancestral home, Stonehaven. And she knows the code. So Nina becomes Ashley while her boyfriend becomes Brian and together they rent out the cottage at Stonehaven. But what happens when Benny recognizes Nina on his sister's Instagram page and the truth begins to surface? A story of legacy, secrets, and fast cash that reaches far beyond just themselves.
Sadie moves to an island off Maine with her family. They've run away from their life in Chicago where her husband was cheating, her son brought a knife to school, and she had a breakdown at her job. But when a neighbor is murdered, Sadie begins to suspect each member of her family, including the new addition of her niece, whose house they've moved into after her husband's sister commits suicide. This one will keep your brain working while you try to piece all of it together and just when you think you've figured it out, you're in for a surprise.
Carson McCullers's biographers denied her queer lifestyle pointing to her marriage as proof. Even as Jenn Shapland researches Carson McCullers' life, she is met with opposition. In My Auto-biography of Carson McCullers, Shapland explores the idea of erasure and obsession while deconstructing Carson's marriage and reconstructing her relationships with two women: Annemarie and Mary.
Shay Miller witnesses a woman's suicide at the 33rd Street Subway station in Manhattan. Lonely and working a temp job, Shay falls in with the woman's caring and popular friends after attending the woman's memorial service. The new friends take her to dinner, suggest a makeover, and help find an apartment. Shay's life seems to be turning golden just like her new friends until she wakes up one morning feeling drugged, surrounded by a stolen wallet, a bloodied dress, and the police standing over her.
This book is incredible and it's no wonder The Yellow House won the National Book Award this year. Sarah M. Broom is not handing over the tourist's New Orleans. Here is New Orleans East, built on a swamp between the Mississippi, the new Mississippi, and a canal. Here in the past is the Yellow House and, here in the present is Broom's older brother, Carl, who spends his evenings near the concrete slab which was once the Yellow House. In-between is the story of a family, the politics of land and race, and the fight for recognition.
Lori Gottlieb worked on Friends and ER before the shows aired. She knew George Clooney when. In her 40s, though, she's a therapist in LA and experiences her own crisis, and begins to see a therapist named Wendell. Through different patients and her own humbling experience, Lori Gottlieb gives away the secret of therapy—how to get someone to open up and talk. Funny and straight-forward, this book takes you on a roller coaster of self-discovery.
Libby is adopted and on her 25th birthday she inherits a large house in Chelsea that has been held in trust. Her two siblings disappeared 25 years earlier after her birth parents and an unknown man were found dead in what appeared to be a suicide pact. They never returned to claim the house on their birthdays and so it remained empty and waiting for Libby. Told through three narrators, nothing is as it seems, and the house, worth millions, is about to reveal its secrets.
An evil headmistress, four orphans, and an escape of a lifetime. It's the last summer of prohibition and the beginning of the Great Depression and Odie, his brother, their best friend, and a small girl flee the Lincoln School, a place to assimilate Native American children, on a canoe headed for the Mississippi River. Those they meet--a one-eyed man, a faith healer, a tugboat captain--shape their travels to find the places they can call home, all while being hunted by Mrs. Brickman, the headmistress. It was hard to put this one down and when it was over I only wanted to know the next chapters of their lives.
Helen Phillips weaves together the story of Molly's work place, an archeological dig site where she uncovers a Bible and a Coke can that are just slightly off, and Molly's home where a masked intruder appears to know the house only as Molly can. This is a thriller to keep you up at night!
In Florida, in the 90s, T. Kira grows up. There's money and privilege, but racism and longing to belong. At its core, this book is a love letter to family and T. Kira finding parts of herself she didn't even know were missing. A story about parents who are both attentive and love madly, but who disappear into themselves. I read this book in six hours on a train. It is good. It will be up for all the awards; get ahead of them this year!
George Washington Black is born on a plantation in Barbados, but he is not fated to stay. Surrounded by violence, Wash becomes a manservant for Titch, the owner's brother, who is a naturalist and leads Wash around the plantation grounds to record and draw. When Wash witnesses a white man's suicide, Titch makes plans for them to escape, leaving the island on a hot air balloon and setting off on a journey to the arctic. As the plot unfolds, and Wash becomes more aware that a man is looking to collect a reward for his capture, he understands Titch is trying to get rid of him, and Washington Black must become his own person.