The Lowering Days, by Gregory Brown
Set in the majestic and austere Penobscot River region of Northern Maine is a land revered by centuries of indigenous people for its abundance, and later, taken, depleted and poisoned by Europeans. At the center of the story are the lives of young people attempting to right the wrongs of adults, past and present. When a teenage girl of the Penobscot Nation sets fire to an abandoned mill, a series of events is unleashed between two neighboring families with an uneasy history. The writing in this novel is chock-full of breathtaking lines and unforgettable characters, alongside a deeply satisfying tale.
We Begin at the End, by Chris Whitaker
A picturesque California coastal town sets the scene for the story of a cast of unforgettable characters. Duchess is a 13-year-old with a foul mouth and an iron will to protect her vulnerable little brother and mother from her repeated bad decisions. The local police chief, Walk, keeps an eye on his hometown and its residents, while attempting to resist inevitable change. When his best childhood friend is released from prison after a 30-year sentence, a series of events is set into motion that will spiral out of control. More than a crime novel, it’s a beautifully written, spellbinding tale imbued with intensity, passion, loyalty, lust and greed.
Surviving Savannah, by Patti Callahan
It was called “The Titanic of the South.” The luxury steamship Pulaski sank in 1838 with Savannah’s elite on board. Through time, their fates were forgotten until the wreck was found, and now their story is finally being told in this breathtaking novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive.
The Windsor Knot, by S.J. Bennett
When a musician is found dead in Windsor Castle after a “dine and sleep,” it appears to be a cut and dried suicide. After further investigation, however, it is determined to be murder — and possibly an inside job. The queen leaves the investigation to the professionals until their suspicions point them in the wrong direction. Unhappy at the mishandling of the case and concerned for her staff’s morale, the monarch decides to discreetly take matters into her own hands. Anyone who loves The Crown will adore this charming, cozy mystery featuring her majesty at her cleverest.
The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World, by Laura Imai Messina
This wonderful novel of grief and love tells the story of Yui, who lost her mother and daughter in the terrible tsunami of March 2011. She hears about a man who has an old telephone booth in his garden where people find the strength to speak to their departed loved ones. News of the phone booth spreads, and people travel from miles around to the old man’s garden. Yui goes too, but can’t bring herself to speak into the receiver. Instead, she finds Takeshi, whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of her mother’s death. A heartbreaking and heartwarming story of healing.
Libertie, by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Set in Brooklyn during the Civil War and the turbulent times after, the voice of Libertie Sampson describes her unique childhood as the freeborn daughter of a Black, widowed female doctor. Libertie’s mother has aspirations for her daughter to follow her path and join her in her practice. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, is hungry for something else while constantly being reminded that, unlike her mother who can pass as white, her skin color is darker. Rather than face her mother’s disappointment, she marries a Haitian doctor and leaves the country with him in search of an autonomous life. She finds herself lonelier than ever on the tumultuous island in this immersive and unforgettable literary triumph.
Grace & Steel: Dorothy, Barbara, Laura, and the Women of the Bush Dynasty, by J. Randy Taraborrelli
No matter the challenges related to power and politics, the women of the Bush dynasty always fought for equality in their marriages as they raised their children to be true to American values. Or, as Barbara Bush put it, “The future of this nation does not depend on what happens in the White House, but what happens in your house.” Taraborelli, the New York Times bestselling author, details the tragedy Barbara faced in burying her 3-year-old daughter, Robin, and her struggle with depression over the decades; the tragic night a teenage Laura Bush accidentally killed a good friend, a story she did not discuss publicly for decades; the affair that almost doomed George H.W.’s hopes for the presidency; and the tense relationship between Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush that culminated in an angry phone call during which Barbara told Nancy she would never speak to her again — and didn’t.
Peter Easter Frog, by Erin Dealey
Who says bunnies should have all the fun? Hippity Hoppity Pete the Easter . . . frog is here to help out the Bunny any way he can. A fun holiday story of kindness, sharing and friends with a few giggle-inducing surprises along the way. (Ages 2-4.)
Home Is in Between, by Mitali Perkins
When you are born in one place and raised in another, that’s when you’re in the “in between,” and as hard as it can be to learn a new culture and new rules and, well, new everything, it is quite the gift to be fluent in the language of two places. A fun immigrant story from the viewpoint of a middle-class child learning the ins and outs of being part of a whole new world. (Ages 4-6.)
What’s Inside a Flower? by Rachel Ignotofsky
Not just your ordinary science book, What’s Inside is the book any budding wildlife biologist would want. Stunning illustrations teach not only parts of a flower, but also jobs flowers have and the way they interact with the world. The perfect book to welcome spring. (Ages 8-12.)
Ground Zero, by Alan Gratz
Told from the viewpoint of two teens on opposite sides of the globe, Gratz reframes the 9/11 story for the eyes and ears of young readers. This one is sure to be an instant bestseller. (Age 12 and up.)
The Valley and the Flood, by Rebecca Mahoney
When Rose’s car breaks down in the unique little desert town of Lotus Valley, Nevada, she feels a strong pull to a place where strange things seem to happen and a surreal prophecy is set to take place. A creative, fresh, and imaginative work of art. (Age 14 and up.) Review by Kaitlyn Rothlisberger. PS
Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.