May Book Club Picks: Motherhood, Tradition, and Twisted Games

May Book Club Picks: Motherhood, Tradition, and Twisted Games

Spring is finally here, and it’s the perfect time to set up your May book club meeting. Whether your club is interested in picking up an unusual psychological thriller, an important graphic memoir, or a novel about the prison system, there’s a book here for every group of readers. So call your friends, pick up some snacks, and maybe even set up a meeting space outdoors: You won’t want to miss these book club picks.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

It sounded like the perfect Valentine’s Day date. Margaret’s boyfriend Chip, who was training as a pilot, took Margaret up above the clouds and popped the big question: He asked her to marry him. But from there, the date spiraled downward—literally. The plane crashed, and Margaret was left with a life-changing spinal injury. Chip, who wasn’t hurt in the crash, struggles with the guilt he feels over the accident as Margaret works to recover from her devastating injuries. A rift opens between the two. Then, Margaret meets Ian, her new physical therapist. Love just might bloom in an unexpected place, and readers will adore this poignant and sweet tale about the twists and turns life can take. A few lucky Bookish readers got an early look at this book on BookishFirst—you can read their reviews here.

Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Does this cover look familiar? You may have spotted it on our list must-read books of spring 2018. Mark Oshiro’s debut young adult novel tells the story of Moss Jeffries, a gay high school sophomore who suffers from panic attacks that stem from the night police officers shot and killed his father. Moss’ experiences with officers haven’t improved since that fateful night six years ago. His school continues to unfairly target his fellow black students, subjecting them to searches and disciplining students who try to refuse. When his trans friend Shawna is singled out, Moss knows something has to change. With the help of his friends, Moss stages a walkout. This is a powerful and important tale that you book club won’t soon forget.

That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam

Rebecca Stone is a new mother, and she knows that she needs support during this transitional time. That’s why she hires Priscilla Johnson to come work as a nanny in her home. The two women grow incredibly close, and eventually, Priscilla becomes pregnant with a child of her own. Then, Priscilla dies suddenly, and Rebecca adopts Priscilla’s son. Rebecca will find herself raising a black son alongside her biological son, who is white. This is a thought-provoking story about family, race, and the bond between mothers.

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Mara, a bisexual high school junior, finds her entire world turned upside down when her twin brother Owen is accused of raping his girlfriend Hannah. Mara is torn: She trusts and believes Hannah, but imagining her own twin committing such a violent act is almost impossible to comprehend. The accusation also brings up a traumatic memory from her own past, one that she’s never shared with anyone, even Owen. When her parents defend Owen and her school’s feminist club steps up to defend Hannah, Mara realizes that she must choose to take a stand for what she believes in or stay silent for her family. Ashley Herring Blake’s young adult novel is a heartbreaking, moving, and fiercely feminist tale about slut-shaming, the effects of rape culture, and overcoming trauma.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Author Rachel Kushner has been nominated for not just one but two National Book Awards. Now, she’s back with another novel that seems destined for countless accolades. The Mars Room tells the story of Romy Hall who finds herself in Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility where she is serving a long sentence. Her crime? Killing a man who was stalking her. Readers will learn more about Romy’s past as well as the other women who walk the halls at Stanville. This is a riveting and thought-provoking book about prisons and the people who inhabit them. We’re so excited about it that we also included it on our spring previews.

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

In Araminta Hall’s new psychological thriller, readers will meet Mike Hayes. Mike loved Verity Metcalf with his whole heart, and their relationship lasted nearly a decade. During their time together, they played a game in which the couple waited for other men to flirt with Verity. Then, Mike would step in and and assert himself as her boyfriend. But Mike moves away, and when he returns, Verity is engaged. Is this the end of their relationship, or just part of the game? For book clubs that love psychological thrillers, we bet this one will deliver lots to talk about. Kirkus notes in its review, “Which is worse—an emotionally disturbed murderer or a woman with a fierce libido? Hall’s U.S. debut is designed to show just how much trouble society has answering that question.”

Tradition by Brendan Kiely

At the prestigious Fullbrook Academy, misogyny runs rampant. While boys stack hockey pucks in their windows to visibly mark their sexual conquests, girls are encouraged to stay quiet and “not make a scene.” Jamie Baxter sees the unfair standards, but he’s determined to keep his head down and simply play hockey in the hopes of getting a scholarship. Jules Devereux is also focused on her upcoming college career, though she doesn’t have the luxury of ignoring the way sexist behavior impacts her daily life. When Jules is assaulted by an ex-boyfriend at a party, the devastating impact of the school’s boys-will-be-boys mentality comes to light. Nicola Yoon, author of The Sun Is Also a Star, called Brendan Kiely’s novel “a deeply felt, powerful, devastating and, ultimately, hopeful look at toxic rape culture and its destructive effects.” We know your book club will agree.

The Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea by Vannak Anan Prum

For book clubs looking to pick up a piece of nonfiction, we recommend this important graphic memoir from Vannak Anan Prum. The Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea is Prum’s story of surviving human trafficking. Prum moved from Cambodia to Thailand in search of a job that would pay enough to support his growing family. What looked like a job quickly became a nightmare: Prum was sold into slavery. Thus began a horrific ordeal that would last for years, as Prum was forced to work for nearly four years on a boat and then spent months laboring on a plantation. It would be half a decade before he could return to his wife in Cambodia. This memoir will prompt meaningful conversations about human trafficking and its victims.


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