Ah, March. The days are longer, flowers are starting to bloom, and winter’s bitter chill is behind us. This month, we have two recommendations for you and your club: First, celebrate the start of spring with an outdoor meeting. Second, read one of these eight books. Whether your club wants to dissect fairytales, discuss the stigmas surrounding mental illness, or get lost in a mystery, we have the perfect book.
For more excellent picks, check out our Spring Previews!
Sixteen-year-old Poornima and 17-year-old Savitha are best friends, and live in a small village in South India. They met after Poornima’s mother died of cancer, and their friendship quickly became a source of strength for them both. Poornima had always assumed she would enter into an arranged marriage during her teenage years, and she was mostly resigned to that outcome. Her conversations with Savitha, however, show her that there might be other possibilities for her future. But the friendship is rocked when a terrible crime is committed and Savitha vanishes. Poornima must set out to find her friend, and will travel across the world to do so. Book clubs interested in contemporary India and stories about female friendship won’t want to miss this one.
Grace King sometimes feels as though her life is defined by schizophrenia. Her mother has the disorder, her father spends his life searching for a cure for it in his lab, and now she’s joining him as an intern. Grace’s mom left when she was five, and she knows that her father works tirelessly in the hopes of helping his wife if she ever returns. One day at the lab, they seemingly come across a life-changing breakthrough. But just as their study begins to advance, Grace begins to feel herself losing her grip on what is real and what isn’t. An Na’s young adult novel is an emotional and powerful portrait of a teen living with mental illness.
Is there anything like a good psychological thriller for a book club pick? We don’t think so. Alice Feeney’s latest is sure to keep your crew up chatting long into the night. In it, readers meet Amber Reynolds. She has been in a coma following an incident she doesn’t remember. The narrative jumps back and forth in time to fill readers in on Amber’s past and her present situation in the hospital. Amber is pretty sure her husband is responsible for what landed her in the hospital, but she also tells the reader right off the bat that, as the title suggests, sometimes she lies. This is a wonderfully twisty psychological thriller that your book club will love dissecting.
Take your book club on a extraordinary journey this March and let Tomi Adeyemi transport you to Orïsha, a land devoid of magic. Eleven years ago, King Saran sentenced those gifted with magical abilities to death. All of the kingdom’s maji were killed, including Zélie Adebola’s mother. But Zélie believes that magic is worth fighting for. Danger lurks around every corner, and Zélie will need all of her strength, wits, and powers if she hopes to bring magic back to her land. This West African-inspired debut is already making major waves, and it’s poised to be one of the biggest releases of the year. Readers, don’t miss out.
When Nafkote Tamirat’s novel opens, a father and teenage daughter are living in a commune on an unnamed island. Tamirat then takes readers back in time to Boston, where the daughter (who is unnamed) begins to tell the story of how she and her father wound up on the island. Both father and daughter are Ethiopian, and are part of a large group of Ethiopian immigrants in the Boston area. The daughter meets a parking lot attendant named Ayale, who seems nice but is part of a much larger plot. Ayale draws the daughter into his mysterious work, and the ramifications are enormous. Kirkus wrote that this novel is “Captivating for both its unusual detail and observant take on teenage trust. Curious and delightful.” We bet your book club will agree.
Jay Coles is only 21, but his young adult debut novel Tyler Johnson Was Here is already marking him as a writer to watch. High school senior Marvin Johnson is no stranger to police violence. He’s had an officer’s gun aimed straight at him for simply exiting a convenience store near a police chase. So when the cops arrive at a neighborhood party, he and his twin brother Tyler decide to book it home. But in the chaos of the party breaking up, they’re separated. The next morning, a detective arrives at Marvin’s home and claims that Tyler was killed in a gang incident, but then a video surfaces revealing the truth: Tyler was killed by a police officer. Book clubs that loved The Hate U Give will find a lot to unpack in this novel about what it means to be a young black boy in America.
Cameron Harris figured he would never walk again. He was paralyzed years ago by a mine explosion, and has slowly adapted to his new life as a paraplegic. But then, something unexpected happens: One day, Cameron stands up. Immediately, this event is the subject of much attention and scrutiny from religious figures, the media, and even producers of reality television series. With all eyes on him, Cameron is in an uncomfortable position. Is he a miracle? Is he lying about something? And how can a person live with this kind of attention focused on their life? Your book club will love discussing science, faith, and the effects of fame in this rich and exciting novel.
If your book club can’t resist a good fairytale retelling, Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s latest is sure to please. We even named it a must-read of spring 2018. This short story collection draws inspiration from classic tales (“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Cinderella” all make appearances) and a few more modern favorites (The Wind in the Willows and The Velveteen Rabbit). Ortberg breathes new life into these old stories by taking the bones of the originals and reconstructing them into darker, sharper, and funnier versions. Packed with satire and musings on feminism and gender, this collection is sure to have your group talking late into the night.