2019 was an eclectic year for readers. Psychological thrillers seemed to be the most popular, but for those of us looking for a little something else, the shelves were full. FYI: These are some of my favorites, listed in alphabetical order.
ASK AGAIN, YES (Scribner) by Mary Beth Keane
ASK AGAIN, YES was by far the most compelling novel I read this year. It’s about two families who live next door to each other in the 70’s. Both fathers are rookie cops in the same New York City precinct and live in the suburbs. ASK AGAIN, YES is a domestic novel and what makes it so profound is how Keane creates such well-developed and acutely sensitive characters in such ordinary circumstances – which turn out to be anything but. A violent act happens between the families and readers follow how they miraculously reconnect. It’ll have you thinking long after you’ve finished the novel and hoping Keane’s next novel is published soon.
THE CHILDFREE SOCIETY CLUB (Self) by Jaclyn Jaeger (Originally pub. 12/18 but not promoted until 2019)
What I loved about THE CHILDFREE SOCIETY CLUB is how author, Jaclyn Jaeger wrote a totally unique novel. I mean, doesn’t everyone want to be a parent? Apparently not and for reasons that might surprise you. The writing isn’t outstanding, but the well developed characters and story line touched my heart in many ways. I tried my best to think of another novel that tackles this issue and couldn’t come up with one. If you think of one, please email me.
INVISIBLE AS AIR (HarperCollins) by ZOE FISHMAN
Zoe Fishman focuses on an issue ripping apart the heart of our country in INVISIBLE AS AIR – the opioid epidemic. She writes about a family that could be any one of us easily falling into this disease and then trying to cope and possibly, get well. What I appreciated most in Fishman’s novel is how she tackled the subject in such a non-judgmental way. It would be easy to think “this couldn’t happen to my family,” but the truth is, we’re all only a pill away.
KEEPING LUCY (St.MartinsPress) by T. Greenwood
How much would you be willing to sacrifice to help a child you didn’t know? KEEPING LUCY is an emotional roller-coaster to be read with an open heart. A woman gives birth to a child with Down’s Syndrome in the 60’s, and her family institutionalizes her baby without her knowledge. She eventually finds her own voice and courage allowing her to risk everything to get her baby back. This was a heart-aching novel, that made me mad at the injustices in this world. How much power do you really have? You have to fight for it.
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE (PenguinRandomHouse) by Celeste Ng
LITTLE FIRES EVERWHERE (PenguinRandomHouse) will be turned into a limited series on Hulu March 18th by Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon and I’m so excited. The novel by Celeste Ng takes readers to Shaker Heights, Ohio, which could be your neighborhood. We have the Richardson and the Warren families who come together through odd circumstances and then their families begin to co-mingle. These are ideal ingredients for misunderstandings, jealousy, anger and envy rearing its ugly face. LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE is a perfect excuse to think your family is “normal” after all.
MONTAUK (St.MartinsPress) by Nicola Harrison
I was so thrilled to read MONTAUK (St.MartinsPress) written by Nicole Harrison, who I was in writing workshop with. Not only was I completely immersed into 1938, the characters and the landscape are so well developed. Montauk takes place when the country is on the brink of war. Montauk is a place where the wealthy NYC set spend their summers. Harrison explores both women’s inequality and issues of class. I am so looking forward to reading her follow-up.
PARK AVENUE SUMMER (Berkley) by Renee Rosen
PARK AVENUE SUMMER (Berkley) by Renee Rosen is just a gem of a novel. It’s loosely based on the life of Helen Gurley Brown, the founder of Cosmospolitan Magazine, in the 60’s. It’s a fictional story of a midwestern gal who comes to the big city and becomes HGB’s assistant. It took me away to another time when women were just coming into their own. It also resonated with how important it is to follow your dreams, despite the inevitable difficulties.
PLASTIC (RareBirdBooks) by Frank Strausser
PLASTIC (RareBirdBooks) by Frank Strausser is just a fun book that happened to come out in time for Halloween. A young Hollywood “It” girl is disfigured and a well-known Hollywood plastic surgeon is brought in to reconstruct amidst some troubling circumstances. It reminded me of a cross between FX’s old show “Nip Tuck” and E’s “Botched.” Just plain fun, not trying to make some huge statement.
THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE (St.MartinsPress) by Katherine Center
THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE (St.MartinsPress) by Kathleen Carter is a warm fuzzy of a book. Cassie Hanwell is a woman firefighter always trying to prove herself in a firehouse of men. She comes up against several problems that’ll question whether or not this is the profession for her. It’s one of those heartfelt novels that touches on life, love and in this case, courage.
THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW (St.MartinsPress) by Tracey Garvis Graves
THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW (St.MartinsPress) by Tracy Garvis Graves … just have a box of Kleenex nearby. What would you do if you had a second chance at first love? I loved how Annika and Jonathan reconnect fully understanding the meaning of true love. It was a old premise told in an entirely unique way. It made me look back at a part of my life growing up.
THEY COULD HAVE NAMED HER ANYTHING (LittleA) by Stephanie Jimenez
THEY COULD HAVE NAMED HER ANYTHING is Stephanie Jimenez’ debut novel and it’s an examination of race, class and betrayal. Maria, a Latina girl daily travels from Queens to the Upper East Side of NYC to attend high-school. She’s a scholarship girl trying to find her place in this sea of white privilege. As Maria and white wealthy Rocky, get closer their jealously and desire to live the other’s life becomes deeper and uglier. THEY COULD HAVE NAMED HER ANYTHING could have easily become a YA coming of age novel, but it has more grit to it so that adults and teens will both enjoy.
THE WARTIME SISTERS (St.MartinsPress) by Lynda Cohen Loigman
THE WARTIME SISTERS is about sisters and I think nothing has more potential for story than stories about sisters. In THE WARTIME SISTERS two sisters must reconcile their past in order to survive. It’s about secrets we keep and those that set us free. The novel is also about sibling rivalry, betrayal and friendship. THE WARTIME SISTERS is beautifully written and full of of WWII history.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
#Scribner #HarperCollins #St.MartinsPress #LittleA #RareBirdBooks #Berkley #PenguinRandomHouse @MaryBethKeane @JaclynJaeger @ZoeFishman @TGreenwood @CelesteNg @NicolaHarrison @ReneeRosen @FrankStrausser @KatherineCenter @TracyGarvisGraves @StephanieJimenez @LyndaCohenLoigman