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Behold the Dreamers
by Imbolo Mbue
2016, 397 pages
In the fall of 2007, Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Their situation only improves when Jende’s wife Neni is hired as household help. But in the course of their work, Jende and Neni begin to witness infidelities, skirmishes, and family secrets. Then, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, a tragedy changes all four lives forever, and the Jongas must decide whether to continue fighting to stay in a recession-ravaged America or give up and return home to Cameroon.
The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature
by J. Drew Lanham
2016, 240 pages
From the fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist J. Drew Lanham.
Dating back to slavery, Edgefield County, South Carolina―a place “easy to pass by on the way somewhere else”―has been home to generations of Lanhams. In The Home Place, readers meet these extraordinary people, including Drew himself, who over the course of the 1970s falls in love with the natural world around him. As his passion takes flight, however, he begins to ask what it means to be “the rare bird, the oddity.”
by Elizabeth McCracken
2019, 373 pages
A novel about three generations of an unconventional New England family who own and operate a candlepin bowling alley. From the day she is discovered unconscious in a New England cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century– nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold on her person– Bertha Truitt is an enigma to everyone in Salford, Massachusetts. She has no past to speak of, or at least none she is willing to reveal, and her mysterious origin scandalizes and intrigues the townspeople, as does her choice to marry and start a family with Leviticus Sprague, the doctor who revived her. But Bertha is plucky, tenacious, and entrepreneurial, and the bowling alley she opens quickly becomes Salford’s most defining landmark– with Bertha its most notable resident. When Bertha dies in a freak accident, her past resurfaces in the form of a heretofore-unheard-of son, who arrives in Salford claiming he is heir apparent to Truitt Alleys. Soon it becomes clear that, even in her death, Bertha’s defining spirit and the implications of her obfuscations live on, infecting and affecting future generations through inheritance battles, murky paternities, and hidden wills.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
by Kim Michele Richardson
2019, 308 pages
Cussy Mary Carter is the last of her kind, her skin the color of a blue damselfly in these dusty hills. But that doesn’t mean she’s got nothing to offer. As a member of the Pack Horse Library Project, Cussy delivers books to the hill folk of Troublesome, hoping to spread learning in these desperate times. But not everyone is so keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and the hardscrabble Kentuckians are quick to blame a Blue for any trouble in their small town.
This Is How It Always Is
by Laurie Frankel
2017, 327 pages
This how a family keeps a secret . . . and how that secret ends up keeping them. This is how a family lives happily ever after . . . until happily ever after becomes complicated. This is how children change . . . and then change the world. When Rosie and Penn and their four boys welcome the newest member of their family, no one is surprised it’s another baby boy. At least their large, loving, chaotic family knows what to expect. But Claude is not like his brothers. One day he puts on a dress and refuses to take it off. He wants to bring a purse to kindergarten. He wants hair long enough to sit on. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl. Rosie and Penn aren’t panicked at first. Kids go through phases, after all, and make-believe is fun. But soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.
by Candice Carty-Williams
2019, 330 pages
Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places … including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?’ — all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.
I Am the Messenger
by Markus Zusak
2002, 357 pages
Ed Kennedy is a nineteen-year-old cab driver who doesn’t think much of his life. He inadvertently helps stop a bank robbery, and that is when his life starts to change. He begins to receive mysterious messages that instruct him to go to addresses where people need help. Ed becomes the messenger, but who is behind the messages?
by Tom Perrotta
2002, 355 pages
When a bizarre phenomenon causes the cataclysmic disappearances of numerous people all over the world, Kevin Garvey, the new mayor of a once-comfortable suburban community, struggles to help his neighbors heal while enduring the fanatical religious conversions of his wife and son.
The Dutch House
by Ann Patchett
2019, 337 pages
At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves. Cyril’s son Danny and his older sister Maeve are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another.
Dear Mrs. Bird
by A.J. Pearce
2018, 281 pages
London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is doing her bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a lady war correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down. Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have gone too far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.