Book picks similar to
Human Blues: A Novel by Elisa Albert
The Fourth Child
Jessica Winter - 2021
In the fall of 1991, as her children are growing older and more independent, Jane is overcome by a spiritual and intellectual restlessness that leads her to become involved with a local pro-life group. Following the tenets of her beliefs, she also adopts a little girl from Eastern Europe. But Mirela is a difficult child. Deprived of a loving caregiver in infancy, she remains unattached to her new parents, no matter how much love Jane shows her. As Jane becomes consumed with chasing therapies that might help Mirela, her relationships with her family, especially her older daughter, Lauren, begin to fray. Feeling estranged from her mother and unsettled in her new high school, Lauren begins to discover the power of her own burgeoning creativity and sexuality—a journey that both echoes and departs from her mother’s own adolescent experiences. But when Lauren is confronted with the limits of her youth and independence, Jane is thrown into an emotional crisis, forced to reconcile her principles and faith with her determination to keep her daughters safe. The Fourth Child is a piercing love story and a haunting portrayal of how love can shatter—or strengthen—our beliefs.
Ali BenjaminAli Benjamin - 2021
Ethan co-founded a lucrative media start-up, and Zo was well on her way to becoming a successful filmmaker. Then they moved to a rural community for a little more tranquility--or so they thought.When newfound political activism transforms Zo into a barely recognizable ball of outrage and #MeToo allegations rock his old firm, Ethan finds himself a misfit in his own life. Enter a houseguest who is young, fun, and not at all concerned with the real world, and Ethan is abruptly forced to question everything: his past, his future, his marriage, and what he values most.Startling, witty, thought-provoking, and wise, Ali Benjamin's exciting debut novel offers the shock of recognition as it deftly illuminates some of the biggest issues of our time. Taking inspiration from a classic Edith Wharton tale about a small-town love triangle, The Smash-Up is a wholly contemporary exploration of how the things we fail to see can fracture a life, a family, a community, and a nation.
Holding Her Breath
Eimear RyanEimear Ryan
With her Olympic dreams shattered after a breakdown, she is suddenly free to create a fresh identity for herself outside of swimming. Striking up a friendship with her English major roommate, Beth soon finds herself among a literary crowd of people who adore the poetry of her grandfather, Benjamin Crowe, who died tragically before she was born. Beth's mother and grandmother rarely talk about what happened to Benjamin, and Beth is unsettled to find that her classmates may know more about her own family history than she does.As the year goes on, Beth embarks on a secret relationship with an older postdoctoral researcher--and on a quest to discover the truth about Benjamin and his widow, her beloved grandmother Lydia. The quest brings her into an archive that no scholar has ever seen, and to a person who knows things about her family that nobody else knows.Holding Her Breath is a razor-sharp, moving, and seriously entertaining novel about complicated love stories, ambition, and grief--and a young woman coming fully into her powers.
Other People's Children
R.J. Hoffmann - 2021
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO SAVE YOUR FAMILY?As soon as Gail and Jon Durbin bring home their adopted baby Maya, she becomes the glue that mends their fractured marriage. But the Durbin’s social worker, Paige, can’t find the teenage birth mother to sign the consent forms. By law, Carli has seventy-two hours to change her mind. Without her signature, the adoption will unravel. Carli is desperate to pursue her dreams, so giving her baby a life with the Durbins seems like the right choice – until her own mother throws down an ultimatum. Soon Carli realizes how few choices she has. As the hours tick by, Paige knows that the Durbins’ marriage won’t survive the loss of Maya, but everyone’s life is shattered when they—and baby Maya—disappear without a trace. Filled with heartrending turns, Other People’s Children is a riveting page-turner you’ll find impossible to put down.
A Very Nice Girl
Imogen Crimp - 2022
Not with her wealthy classmates at the selective London Conservatory where she unexpectedly wins a place after university, not with the family she left behind, and definitely not with Max, a man she meets in the bar where she sings for cash. He’s everything she’s not—rich, tailored to precision, impossible to read—and before long Anna is hooked, desperate to hold his attention, and determined to ignore the warning signs that this might be a toxic relationship.As Anna shuttles from grueling rehearsals to brutal auditions, she finds herself torn between two conflicting desires: the drive to nurture her fledgling singing career, which requires her undivided attention, and the longing for human connection. When the stakes increase, and the roles she’s playing—both on stage and off—begin to feel all-consuming, Anna must reckon with the fact that, in carefully performing what’s expected of her as a woman, she risks losing sight of herself completely.Both exceedingly contemporary and classic, A Very Nice Girl reminds us that even once we have taken possession of our destinies we still have the power to set all we hold dear on fire.
Let's Not Do That Again
Not that that’s her slogan, although it should be. This is what she’s worked so hard for over the years after her husband’s untimely death (which was definitely not her fault) and inheriting his seat in the House of Representatives. She’s said all the right things. Passed all the right legislation. Chapped her lips kissing babies. There’s just one problem: her grown children.Greta and Nick Harriman are adrift. Nick, recently heartbroken, is floundering in his attempts to write a musical about the life of Joan Didion (called Hello to All That). And then there’s his little sister Greta. Smart, pretty, and completely unmotivated by anything, allowing her life to pass her by like the shoppers at the Apple store where she works.But then one morning the world wakes up not to Nancy making headlines, but Greta. She’s in Paris. With extremist protestors. Throwing a bottle of champagne through a beloved bistro’s front window. In order to save her campaign, not to mention her daughter, Nancy and Nick must find Greta before it’s too late.Smart and poignant, funny and tear-jerking, Let’s Not Do That Again proves that like democracy, family is a messy and fragile thing that means more than any mother, or senator, could ever dream.
When We Lost Our Heads
Heather O'Neill - 2022
Marie Antoine is the charismatic, spoiled daughter of a sugar baron. At 12 years old, with her blond curls and her unparalleled sense of whimsey, she's the leader of all the children in the Golden Mile, an affluent strip of 19th century Montreal. Until one day in 1873, when Sadie Arnett, dark-haired, sly, and brilliant, moves to the neighborhood.Marie and Sadie are immediately united by their passion and intensity, and they attract and repel each other in ways that light each of them on fire. Marie with her bubbly charm sees the light and sweetness of the world, whereas Sadie's obsession with darkness is all consuming. Soon their childlike games take on a thrill of danger and then become deadly.Forced to separate, they spend their teenage years engaged in acts of alternating innocence and depravity--until a singular event unites them once more, with dizzying effects. And after Marie inherits her father's sugar empire and Sadie disappears into the city's gritty underworld, a revolution of the working class begins to foment. Each of them will have unexpected roles to play in events that upend their city--the only question is whether they will find each other once more.Traveling from a repressive finishing school to a vibrant brothel, taking readers firsthand into the brutality of factory life and the opulent lives of Montreal's wealthy, When We Lost Our Heads dazzlingly explores gender and power, sex and desire, class and status, and the terrifying power of the human heart when it can't let someone go.
The Queen of Hearts
Kimmery Martin - 2018
Now they're happily married wives and mothers with successful careers--Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years. As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie's life--both professionally and personally--throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick's unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.
Very Cold People
Sarah Manguso - 2022
Hers is no picturesque New England childhood but one of swap meets and factory seconds and powdered milk. Shame blankets her like the thick snow that regularly buries nearly everything in Waitsfield.As she grows older, Ruthie slowly learns how the town's prim facade conceals a deeper, darker history, and how silence often masks a legacy of harm--from the violence that runs down the family line to the horrors endured by her high school friends, each suffering a fate worse than the last. For Ruthie, Waitsfield is a place to be survived, and a girl like her would be lucky to get out alive.In her eagerly anticipated debut novel, Sarah Manguso has written, with characteristic precision, a masterwork on growing up in--and out of--the suffocating constraints of a very old, and very cold, small town. At once an ungilded portrait of girlhood at the crossroads of history and social class as well as a vital confrontation with an all-American whiteness where the ice of emotional restraint meets the embers of smoldering rage, Very Cold People is a haunted jewel of a novel from one of our most virtuosic literary writers.
The Sweeney Sisters
Lian Dolan - 2020
But their mother’s death from cancer fifteen years ago tarnished their golden-hued memories, and the sisters drifted apart. Their one touchstone is their father, Bill Sweeney, an internationally famous literary lion and college professor universally adored by critics, publishers, and book lovers. When Bill dies unexpectedly one cool June night, his shell-shocked daughters return to their childhood home. They aren’t quite sure what the future holds without their larger-than-life father, but they do know how to throw an Irish wake to honor a man of his stature.But as guests pay their respects and reminisce, one stranger, emboldened by whiskey, has crashed the party. It turns out that she too is a Sweeney sister.When Washington, DC based journalist Serena Tucker had her DNA tested on a whim a few weeks earlier, she learned she had a 50% genetic match with a childhood neighbor—Maggie Sweeney of Southport, Connecticut. It seems Serena’s chilly WASP mother, Birdie, had a history with Bill Sweeney—one that has remained totally secret until now.Once the shock wears off, questions abound. What does this mean for William’s literary legacy? Where is the unfinished memoir he’s stashed away, and what will it reveal? And how will a fourth Sweeney sister—a blond among redheads—fit into their story?By turns revealing, insightful, and uproarious, The Sweeney Sisters is equal parts cautionary tale and celebration—a festive and heartfelt look at what truly makes a family.
The Perfect Golden Circle
Over the course of a burning hot summer, two very different men - traumatized ex-soldier Calvert, and affable and chaotic Redbone - set out nightly in a decrepit camper van to undertake an extraordinary project. Under cover of darkness, the two men traverse the fields of rural England in secret, forming crop circles in elaborate and mysterious patterns, designs so intricate that they inspire the kind of awe that the ancient Gothic cathedral in nearby Salisbury once inspired.As the summer wears on, and their designs grow ever more ambitious, the two men find that their work has become a cult international sensation - and that an unlikely and beautiful friendship has taken root as the wheat ripens from green to gold.But as harvest-time beckons -- and as media and the authorities begin to take too much interest in their work-- Calvert and Redbone have to race against time to finish the most stunning and original crop circle ever conceived: the Honeycomb Double Helix.Moving and exhilarating, and recalling the apocalyptic visions of William Blake, Alan Moore and Cormac MacCarthy, The Perfect Golden Circle is a captivating, tender and slyly witty novel about the power of beauty to heal trauma and fight power.
Romy HausmannRomy Hausmann - 2020
After being released from prison, she's wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends. But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven--free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja's boss--kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can't seem to refuse.The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer...
Kate RussoKate Russo - 2020
Now, at age fifty-five, his wife has left him, he hasn't sold a painting in two years, and his gallery wants to stop selling his work, claiming they'll have more value retrospectively...when he's dead. So, left with a large West London home and no income, he's forced to move into his artist's studio in the back garden and list his house on the popular vacation rental site, AirBed.A stranger now in his own home, with his daughter, Mia, off at art school, and any new relationships fizzling out at best, Bennett struggles to find purpose in his day-to-day. That all changes when three different guests--lonely American Alicia; tortured artist Emma; and cautiously optimistic divorcée Kirstie--unwittingly unlock the pieces of himself that have been lost to him for too long.Warm, witty, and utterly humane, Super Host offers a captivating portrait of middle age, relationships, and what it truly means to take a new chance at life.
The Second Life of Mirielle West
Amanda Skenandore - 2021
Based on little-known history, this timely book will strike a chord with readers of Fiona Davis, Tracey Lange, and Marie Benedict.Based on the true story of America’s only leper colony, The Second Life of Mirielle West brings vividly to life the Louisiana institution known as Carville, where thousands of people were stripped of their civil rights, branded as lepers, and forcibly quarantined throughout the entire 20th century. For Mirielle West, a 1920’s socialite married to a silent film star, the isolation and powerlessness of the Louisiana Leper Home is an unimaginable fall from her intoxicatingly chic life of bootlegged champagne and the star-studded parties of Hollywood’s Golden Age. When a doctor notices a pale patch of skin on her hand, she’s immediately branded a leper and carted hundreds of miles from home to Carville, taking a new name to spare her family and famous husband the shame that accompanies the disease.At first she hopes her exile will be brief, but those sent to Carville are more prisoners than patients and their disease has no cure. Instead she must find community and purpose within its walls, struggling to redefine her self-worth while fighting an unchosen fate.As a registered nurse, Amanda Skenandore’s medical background adds layers of detail and authenticity to the experiences of patients and medical professionals at Carville – the isolation, stigma, experimental treatments, and disparate community. A tale of repulsion, resilience, and the Roaring ‘20s, The Second Life of Mirielle West is also the story of a health crisis in America’s past, made all the more poignant by the author’s experiences during another, all-too-recent crisis.
Faith Merino - 2021
There, hidden in the mountains and woods, dense with fog and the cold of winter, Evelyn grapples with the guilt of what she’s done, and as she attempts to reconcile her wild independence with the responsibilities of parenthood, she reconnects with the two women who raised her—her foster mother, Nan, and her biological mother, Jubilee. But by coming home, she has set in motion a series of events that will revive the decades-old tragedy that haunts Cormorant Lake—and lead her to confront the high cost of protecting her secret.At once fantastical and deeply rooted in the natural world, Faith Merino’s deeply affecting and spirited debut novel explores the shape of family, the enduring bonds of friendship, and the imperfections of motherhood—messy and beautiful, instinctive and learned, temporal but permanently life-altering.