Lane Smith is a hilarious, irreverent and award-winning children's illustrator and author, with titles under his belt like The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. His first middle grade novel, Return to Augie Hobble, starts out just as one might expect.
Ruth is in the throes of middle school and floundering without her friend Charlotte. For years, the girls did everything together: Charlotte was adopted by two dads, and Ruth has two moms, so their parents formed a “support group.” Now Charlotte has moved on to the popular crowd, and Ruth has become a loner. “I’m that hawk flying above it all, the quiet observer on the sidelines. And that’s the way I like it,” she says. But life won’t leave her on the sidelines.
It takes a village, as they say, and in this case it takes one to help a young girl feel right at home.
Nowadays, the title of a nonfiction book is almost invariably followed by a phrase hyping the contents, including words like incredible, survival or secret. No such subtitle is needed for two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough’s latest book, The Wright Brothers, even though it contains all three elements.
In his second novel, Christopher Bollen brings a fresh perspective to the tale of a small town that hides secrets beneath its sleepy facade. With Orient, Bollen takes a real place—the North Fork of Long Island—and weaves a mesmerizing fictional web of characters and mysteries into a story that is as viscerally thrilling as it is intellectually precise.
An aspiring writer from an affluent Chicago suburb who never finishes anything he starts, Joshua Levin has never had to suffer much. His life is “a warm blanket,” in contrast to the lives of the immigrants he teaches as an ESL instructor, and his creative endeavors have been as futile and disheartening as the Cubs at nearby Wrigley Field. That is, until Joshua comes up with an idea for a script called Zombie Wars that could be his big break, and the sad but beautiful Bosnian woman in his class, Ana, starts to seduce him.
Screenwriter and author Lisa Lutz is well known for her zany mystery series starring Izzy Spellman, private eye. Here she jumps into mainstream women’s fiction with How to Start a Fire, an engaging portrait of female friendship spanning two decades. In 1993, when all three are students at UC Santa Cruz, freshman roommates Kate and Anna find George passed out on the lawn outside the party they had all attended. The three young women quickly become friends during their undergraduate years and beyond, the bonds between them tightening and loosening over the years.
Teddy Todd, who first appeared in Kate Atkinson’s thrilling Life After Life (2013), served as a British pilot in World War II. As a young man in the throes of a brutal war, he “didn’t expect to see the alchemy of spring, to see the dull brown earth change to bright green and then pale gold.”
Charlotte Brontë makes her way to 21st-century New York City by way of Korea in this latest spin on Jane Eyre from first-time author Patricia Park. The title character is Jane Re, “a honhyol, a mixed-blood,” with a Korean mother and American father. As if the “Koreanish” Jane (as she describes herself) does not already feel like an outsider, her parents die, and she is shipped off to live with her gruff uncle in Flushing, Queens—an enclave that is “all Korean, all the time,” and where “your personal business was communal property.”
Of the estimated six million Jews extinguished during the Holocaust, perhaps one-fourth were children. To make this figure somewhat conceivable, imagine if every one of them had, like Anne Frank, left behind a diary—or if that many novelists reconstructed in fiction the horrors these innocents had to face. Something like this imperative motivates National Book Award finalist Jim Shepard’s seventh novel, The Book of Aron,, a loosely historical account of the children of the Warsaw ghetto.