1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens Owens transports you to the North Carolina marsh in this unique, engrossing read. A coming-of-age story, full of everything I enjoy in a novel: vivid language, adventure, mystery, survival, loss, love. I may go back and re-read at some point (which is something I rarely do with fiction.)
2. Maid by Stephanie Land I read ‘Maid’ in one day. Stephanie Land’s story is deeply personal and eye-opening. I, myself, have been a housekeeper (several years in college); however, I can’t imagine the demands of motherhood on top of the daily back-breaking work. This slightly shifted my perspective on poverty and the current systems we have in place. If only there could be a solution to the current programs, so that people that are truly trying to help themselves were offered more assistance. I admire Stephanie’s strength and perseverance.
3. A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza I’ve seen people describe this book as an ‘experience’ and now that I’ve finished, I can’t think of a more fitting word. While this book took me a month to complete, I’m telling you: it’s a must-read. Mirna has written an incredibly poignant novel about a Muslim American family and the complexities of both cultural expectations and family dynamics. The depth in which the characters developed allowed me to feel empathetic to each individual at one point or another. Mirna’s storytelling is beautiful (I actually highlighted several passages in my Kindle) and my heart actually ached as I read several passages in which Layla and Rafiq (the parents) came to the realization that the hopes/dreams they had for their children were never going to follow their anticipated course. Our children are ultimately responsible for making their own decisions regardless of how much guidance/direction/prayer we give them. I will say that the story does begin a little slow. I put it down and picked it back up three times before I finally became fully engaged; however, I’m so glad I did!
4. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid I cannot believe this is fiction and these individuals don’t actually exist! Once again, Reid has delivered a brilliant, well-crafted story. Stories heavily focused on sex, drugs and rock n roll wouldn’t necessarily be my ‘cup of tea’ but the characters are authentic and the storytelling is innovative. An unconventional format that never felt lacking of the depth you’d receive in a conventionally formulated story. I think this book may be one of my favorites of the year (if not all-time). I realize, it’s early, but this book is THAT good. I honestly cannot think of a negative thing to say.
5. There There by Tommy Orange Wow! An absolutely remarkable debut novel! Tommy Orange knits together the stories of thirteen individuals linked in cultural, familial (or just coincidental) ways while living in Oakland, California. Overall, this novel is neither pleasant or escapist but it’s important and wonderfully written. I highly recommend this book to any fiction reader. Orange is an excellent new voice in writing; I’d love for his next project to be a book of essays!
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin