Summer 2019’s Must-Read Fiction

Summer 2019’s Must-Read Fiction

Consider this your summer reading assignment. Summer 2019 brings with it a fabulous new batch of novels, and we’ve narrowed it down to the 10 you absolutely can’t miss. Whether you want to check out Ocean Vuong’s much-anticipated debut novel, Jennifer Weiner’s feminist tale based on her mother’s life, or Colson Whitehead’s buzzed-about new story, there’s a great book here for everyone. Read on for a look at summer 2019’s must-read fiction.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is definitely one of the season’s most-anticipated new releases. In it, Little Dog (our twenty-something narrator) writes to his mother. His letter touches on abuse, intergenerational trauma, and the Vietnam War, and reckons with all of the pain and love that relationships can hold simultaneously. Vuong is a poet, and though this book is written in prose, it captures the feeling and vibrancy of poetry in its pages. Readers, you won’t want to miss this powerful novel.

On shelves: June 4

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Readers likely know Elizabeth Gilbert as the author of the runaway hit Eat Pray Love, and now she’s back with a work of historical fiction that’s sure to delight. City of Girls takes readers to New York City during the 1940s. There, Vivian Morris is settling into her Aunt Peg’s home. She’ll be staying there for a while, as she was asked not to return to Vassar in the fall because of her poor grades. Peg is the proprietor of a theater in the Big Apple, and Vivian is drawn to the glamorous world of performers and shows. These are formative experiences for a young woman, and they’ll shape the course of Vivian’s life.

On shelves: June 4

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn

For years, Patsy has dreamed of leaving Pennyfield, Jamaica. She’s had her sights set on America, and she is beyond excited when her visa finally arrives. Moving to America will affect more than just Patsy, however: She has a young daughter named Tru who she cannot bring with her. As Patsy settles into New York City and reconnects with an old flame from her past, she will grapple with the challenges inherent in being an undocumented immigrant and struggle to maintain strong ties to those she left behind in Pennyfield. For a nuanced take on motherhood and identity, look no further than Patsy.

On shelves: June 4

In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow

West Mills, North Carolina is the small town that Azalea Centre (who goes by Knot) calls home. She’s a bit of a loner, and many in town disapprove of her drinking and socializing with men. One neighbor, however, sees things differently. Otis Lee Loving enjoys helping the people in his life avoid pain and suffering and decides Knot could use his guidance. He and his wife Penelope take Knot under their wings, and help her to come to terms with her past and find a way to move forward. We know readers will keep thinking about Knot and Otis long after turning the final page.

On shelves: June 4

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Readers, meet Jo and Bethie Kaufman, two sisters born in Detroit in the 1950s. In Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner follows these two women from childhood through their entire lives as each decides and then decides again what kind of person she wants to be in the world. Jo and Bethie reinvent themselves multiple times and think about gender equality, reproductive rights, sexuality, and family over the course of this novel. Once you’ve finished reading Mrs. Everything, you’ll feel like you’ve gained two new sisters yourself.

On shelves: June 11

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger

For readers who have been eagerly awaiting the next season of Big Little Lies, Bruce Holsinger’s novel The Gifted School delivers a gripping story on some of the same themes (in fact, Meg Wolitzer compared the two books in a glowing blurb). In Crystal, Colorado, a new school is opening up, and as the title of the novel suggests, it is a school for gifted students. Just about every parent in town wants their children to attend, and the scramble for admissions quickly escalates. Readers will meet four families and enter their world as they fight for prestigious spots at the new school.

On shelves: July 2

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Have you been hankering for a trip to the Bahamas? Pick up Beatriz Williams’ new novel The Golden Hour, and you’ll find yourself there (albeit roughly 80 years ago). There you’ll meet Leonora “Lulu” Randolph, a magazine journalist who is grieving the recent death of her husband. She’s on assignment in Nassau, and works to insinuate herself into the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s group of friends. Lulu finds herself falling in love, but then a shocking crime upends her circle. This is the perfect book to take with you to the beach, even if you’re not in the Bahamas.

On shelves: July 9

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead is the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author of The Underground Railroad, and his newest novel, The Nickel Boys, is sure to be one of this summer’s most talked-about titles. Whitehead’s latest is set in a predominantly black neighborhood of Tallahassee during the Civil Rights movement, and introduces readers to a college-bound freshman named Elwood Curtis. Elwood’s plans are derailed when a small incident lands him in a horrific and racist reformatory facility where he is systematically abused. This is a heavy read about race, abuse, and the Jim Crow South that will give readers lots to think about.

On shelves: July 16

Inland by Téa Obreht

Lurie and Nora meet in the Arizona Territory in the late 19th century, and readers will be absolutely spellbound by the results. Lurie’s present life is littered with phantoms from his past, and he is struggling to find inner peace. Nora is a wife and mother who is feeling alone: Her husband is out looking for water and the aftershocks of an extremely heated argument are threatening to break up her family. For a work of historical fiction that addresses a lesser-known corner of American history, Téa Obreht’s Inland is the perfect book to pick up this month.

On shelves: August 13

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Cassie Hanwell isn’t just good in a crisis, she’s great. As a firefighter, she has to be–her job is stressful, but she excels at it and has earned the respect of her all-male team. Then one day, her mother (with whom Cassie hasn’t always had the smoothest relationship) asks Cassie to move home and help her out. The new firehouse where Cassie finds herself working is not as accepting of her gender as her previous firehouse was, and Cassie is frustrated at having to prove herself again. And when another firefighter catches her eye and Cassie starts to fall for him, things get even more complicated.

On shelves: August 13

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