Stanley and Vera reunite at each year’s National Spelling Bee, forming a bond over their shared victory and their mothers’ quirks and ambitious goals for their lives. They seem destined for success, sure to cross paths again at Harvard—until Stanley proposes a deal.
Robin Kirman’s first novel, Bradstreet Gate, is set amidst the hallowed halls of Harvard, peopled mostly by elite young scholars and their erudite professors and mentors. Her story revolves around three of these students, whose lives become entwined over the course of their undergraduate years—and remain so over the next decade.
Lois Lonsdale is an enigma to those around her. The British literature professor is a respected academic, but also something of a threat to others in the department. That’s partly due to the former spelling bee champion’s striking looks, but her publishing success and standoffish nature don’t help.
Raymond Chandler once said about writing fiction: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.” In his first novel, Bull Mountain, firefighter Brian Panowich seems to have taken Chandler’s advice to heart: His characters brandish weaponry in a way that Charlton Heston might have found disconcerting. The result is a fast-paced and intricate revenge story culminating in a Shakespearean bloodbath.
A world-famous actor (a former Disney Channel star who’s back for a reunion special—think Ryan Gosling meets Justin Timberlake) walks into the small-town Florida bar where three 19-year-old friends are drinking their way through another dull night.
Simon Watson lives on a precipice: His family’s old house on the Long Island Sound is slowly dying, leaning closer to the sea with every storm, and his job as a librarian is in peril thanks to looming budget cuts. In the midst of all this uncertainty, a bookseller sends a curious book to his doorstep—a journal kept by the proprietor of a traveling carnival. Full of sketches and damaged by water, the book has been passed down and annotated for centuries, and Simon is surprised to find the names of his grandmother and other ancestors within its pages.
If there’s a life before this one where people are allowed to pick their parents, the two young protagonists of Rebecca Dinerstein’s debut novel came up snake eyes, or nearly so.
The setting of Sara Taylor’s ambitious and unique debut novel is The Shore—three islands off the coast of Virginia, just south of Maryland, “trailing out into the Atlantic Ocean like someone’s dripped paint.”
Growing up may be hard to do under the best of circumstances, but for two best friends at the dawn of the millennium, it's outright agony.
In Sarah Nović’s first novel, Girl at War, her protagonist Ana Jurić lives “suspended between the living and the dead” after witnessing the atrocities of the Croatian War of Independence.