Five years after retirement due to health, Father Tim Kavanagh is still reeling. What he sees at first as the "yawning indifference" of his church family is hurtful, but time has passed and an exciting trip to Ireland with his wife Cynthia has served to cushion the blow. Still, he finds the idea "to withdraw someplace for the sake of seclusion"—and to stay there—far too inviting.
Dan Kelly, the protagonist of Christos Tsiolkas’ latest novel, is not a likable character. He’s not likable in the novel’s first pages, when he’s a scholarship student at a posh boys’ school in Australia, and he remains unlikable at the end, when he’s a 30-something who doesn’t know what to do with his life. However, by the end of the book, we understand Dan, a little. This is why you will stay with Barracuda, why you will keep turning the pages even as you grit your teeth.
Australian author Liane Moriarty portrays elementary school drama in her latest page-turner, Big Little Lies, which comes on the heels of her first U.S. bestseller, The Husband’s Secret. At Pirriwee Public School, petty jealousies and rumors all come to the surface in one “perfect storm”—otherwise known as the annual trivia night.
Judith Frank’s second novel is a powerful tale of a family working its way through unthinkable tragedy. It opens as Matt Greene and his partner, Daniel Rosen, are flying to Tel Aviv—Daniel’s twin brother and his wife have just been killed by a suicide bomber. Ilana and Joel left behind two small children, 6-year-old Gall and baby Noam. A devastated Daniel knows that his brother and sister-in-law wanted Matt and Daniel to raise the children if anything ever happened to them.
In One Plus One, British novelist Jojo Moyes (Me Before You) once again introduces her readers to two mismatched lovers who have troubles of their own but find a safe haven in each other.
First love, young love, unexpected love—any kind of love with a deep vein of naiveté and innocence—this is Rainbow Rowell’s wheelhouse. She manages to capture raw emotion with a wave of nostalgia that captivates not only her primary audience of young adult readers, but also those of us who, at least in theory, have moved past the age of soaring crushes and crushing heartbreak.
Let’s not mince words: George and Irene are weirdos. George is a teacher of astronomy who has visions of ancient gods and goddesses. Irene is an astrophysicist who discovers tiny, purple black holes and doesn’t believe in love or anything else that can’t be measured with very precise instruments. George, on the other hand, longs for love like a consumptive Victorian heroine. They’re both from Toledo and, according to the powers that be, are supposed to end up together. The question Lydia Netzer’s second novel asks is ‘How?’
A liberated Asian at odds with her conservative family or homeland is not a new story. Literature abounds with such declarations of independence in prose, doggedly demolishing superstitions and customs. This is especially true when it comes to an Asian woman's "proper" role in courtship and marriage, or non-role in the workplace. Jean Kwok's entertaining second novel, Mambo in Chinatown, thus breaks no new ground, except perhaps that it is her father, not her mother, who proves the protagonist's foil. Also: ballroom dancing!
Emma Straub’s delightful second novel, The Vacationers, is the best work yet from this Brooklyn-based writer, who previously penned the quirky short story collection Other People We Married and the historical novel Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures.
Jennifer Weiner, the best-selling author of 10 novels, goes a bit darker with her new book, a story about the price some women pay in the pursuit of having it all. In All Fall Down, Weiner tackles a growing epidemic in our society: middle- and upper-class suburban parents who abuse prescription medication to cope with their overworked and overstressed lifestyles.