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Fiction Recommendations

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez

In her first adult novel in over a decade, Julia Alvarez (In the Time of the Butterflies, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents) tells the story of an immigrant writer and recent widow whose life is suddenly filled with uncertainty. Afterlife is a quiet reflection on a lifetime of the things that bring us together and pull us apart from the ones we love. A lovely addition to Alvarez’s work.

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$25.95
ISBN: 9781643750255
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - April 7th, 2020

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half is the multigenerational story of a Black family spanning from the Civil Rights Era to the end of the twentieth century, centering itself around Stella and Desiree, twin sisters who are separated when one of them leaves to live a life passing as White. What follows is an exploration of family and identity, the complexity of race constructs and their very real effects, what is lost, what can be found. Bennett offers no clear answers, only much to think about, and deliciously so, as you race through to discover how these crucial life choices will affect each character, all of whom you have come to understand and care for immensely.

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The Vanishing Half: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780525536291
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - June 2nd, 2020

Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles

If ever you need to leave behind the fast-paced, app-filled, droning noise of this time, open up the world of Simon the Fiddler. This meandering story, set at the end of the Civil War, follows Simon, his fiddle, his dreams for a simple, peaceful life, and his quest to marry the Irish lass he fell in love with at first sight. There are saloon fights, friendships, alligators, hoop skirts, letter writing, and tragic loss. I’m telling you, I thought the music and the Southern scenes were all going to just fade into the Texas sunset, until I got to the final chapters—plot twist!

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Simon the Fiddler: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062966742
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - April 14th, 2020

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

The characters in this transporting book, set before and after the Civil War, still haunt my thoughts. We get to know a mother and daughter—midwives and healers—and the community they serve. Their magic is both a blessing, and a curse and the people who need them can be desperate to believe or quick to condemn. This is a story of people, their overlapping realities, their longing for security, and the unjust world and its rules, rules that we still deal with today. You will love the characters, be curious about what’s true and what is conjured, and shake your head with grief as the story comes to a close.

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Conjure Women: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780525511489
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - April 7th, 2020

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

What if Jesus of Nazareth had a wife? In best-selling author (The Secret Life of Bees) Sue Monk Kidd’s new novel, she imagines just that. With painstaking detail about the historical time, Kidd introduces us to Ana, a young woman born with a gift for words who lives in a time when silence and obedience defined a woman’s place and belonging. Ana’s finding of her voice is intertwined with Jesus’s pursuit for kindness and humanity. What is imagined here is not a tale of one person saving another, but an unfolding love story in which mirroring and respect lead to both risk and reward. Kidd’s ability to hold reverence while infusing new life and perspective to a story that is so known is extraordinary. I cannot explain the beauty and depth of this book, its language, its heart, its anger, its grief, and ultimately its triumph; this is one novel you don’t want to miss.

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The Book of Longings: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780525429760
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Published: Viking - April 21st, 2020

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

The Knockout Queen wrapped its fist around my heart and then squeezed. I mean this literally—the sensation was physical. Rufi Thorpe writes with breathtaking grace and creates a slow build that explodes: the loveability, failings, and deficiencies of everyone, the drift and splintering that time deals to even our closest relationships. The Knockout Queen also has pockets of profundity, both in the adolescent narrator’s wise, shattering musings, and in the grim realities this story contains. Thorpe’s skill makes the experience a pleasure: the effortless dialogue, the wry and funny scenes, and the complex, unforgettable characters that are so human (though it may hurt to admit that humanness can contain a person like the Knockout Queen’s father Ray, who is cut from the same cloth as con man-in-chief Donald Trump, utterly self-serving, with a casual brutality that is beyond redemption. Thorpe reflects our world back to us. I was completely captivated by The Knockout Queen—rushing to consume it but wanting at the same time to savor the rare experience of a book this close to perfect. I wanted it to last and last.

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The Knockout Queen: A novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525656784
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 28th, 2020

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier

Pizza Girl is the metric that every other book released this year will be compared against for me. It’s Juno meets Mulholland Drive. Pizza girl is 18, with a sweet boyfriend who loves her mom; a dead alcoholic dad; and an enigmatic woman who calls on Wednesdays to order a pizza with pickles on it. Who are you when you don’t know what you want out of life? What is motherhood and family? What is desire? The level of attention to detail, the FEELINGS—it’s like the book emerged fully formed for the pit of a pure heart. I can barely contain my love for Pizza Girl.

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Pizza Girl: A Novel Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780385545723
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Published: Doubleday - June 9th, 2020

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

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Valentine: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062913265
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Published: Harper - March 31st, 2020

Valentine tells the story of women in West Texas—the ones who are knocked down, looked over, called crazy, or have been left behind. But even in the midst of their gritty stories, it is the idea of how women come together in both small and large ways to look out for each other that makes these stories speak to our hearts. As BookPage says, “You’ll wish you had more time with each of these powerful women when it’s over.” Elizabeth Wetmore has written my favorite book of the year. —Casey


Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

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Sharks in the Time of Saviors: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374272081
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Published: MCD - March 3rd, 2020

A Hawaiian family is touched by destiny the day a swarm of sharks returns their drowning son to their waiting arms. Legends and expectations are foisted upon this child and the ramifications follow every member of the family in the years following. The story blends magical realism with a vivid look into family poverty and the struggle for personal identity. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the family members, each with a distinct and honest voice. How does a family live up to their destiny? How do they fail? How do they survive? Aching with humanity, Washburn’s writing brims over the surface—a roiling sea of love, despair, humor, chaos and purpose. I laughed, cried, and at times found it hard to breathe. Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a brilliant debut. Washburn bursts into the literary scene with some of the richest writing I've read in a while—crafting fallible, relatable characters who will break your heart and heal it all at once. —Tori


How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang

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How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525537205
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - April 7th, 2020

This debut novel bursts with an emotion and raw energy that mirrors her chosen setting—California’s gold rush. Her story is from a perspective oft forgotten, that of a Chinese immigrant family searching for a home. I felt as if I walked every step with Lucy and Sam, shared their sorrows and their triumphs, and saw a side to my home state I never imagined. This story has lingered with me, and I find myself sifting through Zhang’s words again and again, always turning up another sliver of gold. —Jax


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