Want to know what book releases to watch out for this summer? The following books won’t hit shelves for several months, but they are worth keeping an eye out for. Fortunately, you can reserve them today by visiting www.CountyLibrary.ca and placing a hold.
If you’re into Chick-Lit with substance and timeliness, make a note to check out Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza when it is released in July. It follows Charlotte, a woman running for senate in Pennsylvania, the state where she grew up among the disenfranchised. Twenty-five years or so later, she is a millionaire CEO in Silicon Valley and she’s ready return home to make a difference. And so she drags her young family, including her reluctant husband, across the country to embark upon a gruelling campaign that will test her marriage and her resolve. It covers SO many issues: working motherhood, the gap between the poor and the 1%, the demise of the manufacturing sector, marriage troubles and infidelity, politics in the social media age and, above all, the unfair standards society sets for female politicians. As topical as this novel is, it also manages to be a compulsive readable – and it has a great twist to boot!
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is the kind of book that you start reading and, before you know it, you’re an hour in and halfway done. That is to say, it is VERY engrossing. It follows two perspectives: Suzette and her seven-year-old daughter Hanna. Hanna, apparently disturbed, is hell bent on destroying Suzette. Suzette, a Crohn’s sufferer, is trying to keep her family together and sanity intact. I found I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the book’s promotion of the concept of a purely “evil” child. Not just morally, but also because it did not feel like believable storytelling. Hanna’s voice wasn’t realistic to me and the whole book just felt a bit heartless, particularly the ending. Minor discomfort and moral qualms aside, this was an enjoyable, suspenseful novel. Clearly I’m torn on this one. Decide for yourself when it is released in mid-July.
Rust and Stardust by T. Greenwood is one of the most gut-wrenching novels I have read in a long time. It is the based on the true story of Sally Horner, the 11-year-old kidnapping victim whose abduction in 1948 also inspired Nabokov's Lolita. On a dare, Sally attempted to steal a notebook from a Woolworths when she was stopped by a man claiming to be an FBI agent. He was actually an ex-con named Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison. He says he’ll arrest her unless she does what he says. She believes him. What follows is two years of confusion and anguish for Sally, as she and Frank move all around America, just beyond the grasp of the authorities. This is not a book for the faint of heart, but I loved it. The writing perfectly captures the era, it’s so suspenseful, and it is filled with characters who are interesting and complex. It’s tragic and very affecting, definitely a book that will make you FEEL. It’s out in August.
Japan’s convenience stores are things of wonder so I jumped at the chance to read a book that perfectly captures Japanese convenience store culture. Convenience Store Woman by Sakaya Murata has attained critical acclaim in Japan since its release in 2016, but its English translation won’t be available until the mid-June. It follows a woman named Keiko, who is a bit of an oddball. She lacks the ambition of her peers and is uninterested in romantic relationships; instead, she lives and breathes her job at a convenience store. She has been there eighteen years and running, satisfied with the order and routine this work provides her. One day, when a new employee is added to the roster, Keiko’s life is given a shake up and she finds herself pondering how she might better meet society’s expectations. I very much enjoyed this little book. It’s a perfect mix of quirky and charming, with a small touch of darkness.
If you have read and enjoyed books by Megan Abbott (author of The Fever, Dare Me, and You Will Know Me among others), then Give Me Your Hand is a sure bet. Like all of Abbott’s other books, this one focuses on the subtleties of female relationships and their dark undercurrents. It also uses her trademark sharp and precise prose. The novel follows Kit Owens, an ambitious scientist, who learns that her former BFF/rival, Diane, will be soon be working at her lab. When they were seventeen, Diane told Kit a secret that tore apart their friendship. Now that they have once again crossed paths, this secret threatens to overwhelm Kit. Then something awful happens at the lab that binds Kit and Diane even closer together – and ratchets up the tension. Give Me Your Hand is an intense, absorbing novel that unfortunately fell a bit flat at the end. Still, it’s worth a look for Abbott fans like me. It is will be released in mid-July.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with Advance Reader Copies of these titles in exchange for honest reviews. If you wish to reserve one of these titles, click here and place a hold today.
Originally published in the April 19th edition of the Napanee Beaver.