By Bernice L. McFadden
Published by Plume Books
A young prostitute comes to Bigelow, Arkansas, to start over, far from her haunting past. Sugar moves next door to Pearl, who is still grieving for the daughter who was murdered fifteen years before. Over sweet-potato pie, an unlikely friendship begins, transforming both women’s lives–and the life of an entire town.
Sugar brings a Southern African-American town vividly to life, with its flowering magnolia trees, lingering scents of jasmine and honeysuckle, and white picket fences that keep strangers out–but ignorance and superstition in. To read this novel is to take a journey through loss and suffering to a place of forgiveness, understanding, and grace.
All Adults Here
By Emma Straub
Published by Riverhead Books
When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she’d been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?
Astrid’s youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.
In All Adults Here, Emma Straub’s unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not..
By Karolina Waclawiak
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Karolina Waclawiak’s breakout novel, Life Events, follows Evelyn, who, at thirty-seven, is on the verge of divorce and anxiously dreading the death of everyone she loves. She combats her existential crisis by avoiding her husband and aimlessly driving along the freeways of California looking for an escape–one that eventually comes when she discovers a collective of “exit guides.” Evelyn enrolls in their training course, where she learns to provide companionship and a final exit for terminally ill patients seeking a conscious departure.
She meets Daphne, a dying woman still full of life; Lawrence, an aging porn king; and Daniel, who seems too young to die and whom Evelyn falls for, despite knowing better, not to mention the exit guide code. Each client opens something new in Evelyn, allowing her a chance to access her own grief and confront the self-destructive ways she suppresses her pain. When Evelyn travels through the Southwest to an afterlife convention to further her death education, she must finally face her complicated relationship with her alcoholic father and reconcile her life choices.
Sensitively observed and darkly funny, Life Events is a moving, enlivening story of the human condition: the doldrums of loneliness, the consuming regret of past mistakes, and the thrill, finally, of finding meaning–and love–where you least expect it.
Confessions of the Fox
By Jordy Rosenberg
Published by One World
Jack Sheppard and Edgeworth Bess were the most notorious thieves, jailbreakers, and lovers of eighteenth-century London. Yet no one knows the true story; their confessions have never been found.
Until now. Reeling from heartbreak, a scholar named Dr. Voth discovers a long-lost manuscript–a gender-defying exposé of Jack and Bess’s adventures. Is Confessions of the Fox an authentic autobiography or a hoax? As Dr. Voth is drawn deeper into Jack and Bess’s tale of underworld resistance and gender transformation, it becomes clear that their fates are intertwined–and only a miracle will save them all.
Writing with the narrative mastery of Sarah Waters and the playful imagination of Nabokov, Jordy Rosenberg is an audacious storyteller of extraordinary talent..