From Adah: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Four kids, siblings, secretly visit a fortune teller in the Bronx who reveals the dates of each of their deaths. The dates can't possibly be true, but all four kids internalize this information in different ways as they grow up in a very traditional Jewish home. I love family stories like this with many grown siblings wrestling with the family dynamic. In this one, the comings of age are turbulent and interesting and the plots and introspection are really well intertwined.
From Eleanor: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Celestial and Roy enjoy just one year of marriage before Roy is wrongfully accused of rape and incarcerated with a 12 year sentence. Narrated from three, first person perspectives, what follows is a journey that nods to the political and leisures in the personal. Tayari's beautifully nuanced characters hitch readers onto their hips, inviting us not to peer through their windows but sit on their beds. When I finished An American Marriage, I felt that bittersweet, empty nester sensation and continued to dwell on Roy, Celestial, and Andre long after they had shown me the door.
From Jan: The Extra Woman by Joanna Scutts
Before TV gave us Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas' That Girl, Marjorie Hillis modeled life as a happily single woman. Hillis used her talents as a magazine editor and writer to create a series of books, published between 1936-1967, with a focus on living well as a single. Scutts smoothly interweaves biography and social history providing the cultural context and conflicts around Hillis' work. The result is a thoughtful and engaging history that leaves readers scanning the bibliography to continue the cultural exploration.
From Serena: Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
Born to a black, South African mother and a white, Swiss father during the final years of Apartheid, Noah’s existence was an act of rebellion. It’s hard enough growing up and trying to find where you fit in, but it’s another story growing up in a military state where ethnic labels are everything and no one looks like you. Noah’s voice is down-to-earth and conversational, even when he talks about the brutal violence he often witnessed in the streets and suffered at home. And yet, the stories of his childhood are also infused with great humor; particularly his memories of himself as a young boy who could not help but get into mischief.
From Anna: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Recently, I read Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer, which spotlights the life of Chris McCandless, a young man who abandoned his affluent upbringing and Emory education to adopt a vagabond existence. Author Jon Krakauer did a great job showing how Chris lived in his traveling years, how many lives he touched, and how he met his demise in the Alaskan wilderness. I was on the edge of my seat until the very end.
From Catherine: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Gripping new epic adventure featuring Zelie, a strong, gifted female protagonist charged with bringing magic back to her people and changing the tide against longstanding oppression. Danger lurks everywhere, but with help coming from the most unexpected places the next generation stands a chance to change the course of history and reignite hope for their future. Adeyemi delivers my favorite kind of story, one full of rich, complex, and flawed characters existing in a far-off land of magic... and yet deeply resonates with our current world order. Get ready to get riled and revived!