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.
Sam Angus, author of the World War I historical novel Soldier Dog, takes readers to World War II-era Great Britain in her new novel. Like other children, Wolfie and his older sister Dodie have been sent by their caretaker to the countryside to protect them from London bombing raids. Their beloved Pa has returned safely from the war, but their joy is short-lived, as Pa is being held and tried for cowardice.
If the dystopian coming-of-age novel has been the inspiration for many a Hollywood blockbuster in recent years, the increasingly ubiquitous genre more closely resembles literary fiction in critically acclaimed author Chris Bohjalian’s Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands.
French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi is best characterized by the following passage: “He was an egoist in human affairs; a humble man in the scale of the cosmos.” This elegant writing comes from Elizabeth Mitchell in Liberty’s Torch, the tale of how Bartholdi proposed the creation of the Statue of Liberty and spent much of his life making it happen. He knew that the statue’s completion would bring him fame. But he also knew that it would become a lasting symbol of what America represents: freedom and opportunity.
When Jade gets caught making up school reports about her summer vacations, her parents send her to have a real summer adventure in Wyoming with her aunt. From stargazing on the roof to meeting a boy who claims to be related to Butch Cassidy, Jade’s world starts rapidly expanding. Skies Like These isn’t all sunny weather, but even the storms make for great slumber parties.
Set against the colorful backdrop of the Virgin Islands from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning weaves an intricate tale of the legacy of an island family as it grapples with love, magic and death over more than six decades. A heartbroken patriarch purposefully sinks his ship into the Caribbean, leaving two daughters and their half-brother to make their own way, each in possession of a particular magic and unusual beauty.
Amid the 21st-century glut of overindulgent memoirs, The Removers is a poignant, near-perfect addition to the genre. Andrew Meredith writes of growing up in a crumbling Philadelphia neighborhood, his family quietly imploding in the wake of a scandal that cost his father his university job.
There are all kinds of lies and prevarications in the aptly titled The Kiss of Deception, the new book from award-winning author Mary E. Pearson. Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia (or Lia, as she prefers to be called), First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, does not want to marry the unseen prince from a neighboring country. Lia—accompanied by her lady’s companion, Pauline—forsakes her parents’ wishes and runs away on her wedding day.
What happens when a group of middle school geniuses trains for months to win a special contest at a Disney World-style Florida theme park called Incredo Land? That’s the premise of Bringing Down the Mouse, a page-turning caper whose hero is sixth-grader Charlie Lewis, known as “Numbers,” the nerdy son of an MIT professor dad and a mom with two Ph.D.s.
There are many reasons to love a good misery memoir: In my case, reading about other people’s dysfunctional childhoods offers a sense of community, a sisterhood of resilient Gen Xers who survived a 1970s childhood. Cea Sunrise Person’s engaging new memoir, North of Normal, evokes both the miserable excesses and occasional beauty of growing up in a counterculture family in the wilderness of the Me Decade.