Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America’s Secret Desert by Karen Piper
The China Lake missile range is located in a huge stretch of the Mojave Desert, about the size of the state of Delaware. It was created during the Second World War, and has always been shrouded in secrecy. But people who make missiles and other weapons are regular working people, with domestic routines and everyday dilemmas, and four of them were Karen Piper’s parents, her sister, and–when she needed summer jobs–herself. Her dad designed the Sidewinder, which was ultimately used catastrophically in Vietnam. When her mom got tired of being a stay-at-home mom, she went to work on the Tomahawk. Once, when a missile nose needed to be taken offsite for final testing, her mother loaded it into the trunk of the family car, and set off down a Los Angeles freeway. Traffic was heavy, and so she stopped off at the mall, leaving the missile in the parking lot.
Piper sketches in the belief systems–from Amway’s get-rich schemes to propaganda in The Rocketeer to evangelism, along with fears of a Lemurian takeover and Charles Manson–that governed their lives. Her memoir is also a search for the truth of the past and what really brought her parents to China Lake with two young daughters, a story that reaches back to her father’s World War II flights with contraband across Europe. Finally, it recounts the crossroads moment in a young woman’s life when she finally found a way out of a culture of secrets and fear, and out of the desert.
A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua
Holed up with other mothers-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. Now she’s carrying his baby. Already married with three daughters, Boss Yeung is overjoyed because the doctors have confirmed that he will finally have the son he has always wanted. To ensure that his child has every advantage, Boss Yeung has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil. U.S. citizenship will open doors for their little prince.
As Scarlett awaits the baby’s arrival, she chokes down bitter medicinal stews and spars with her imperious housemates. The only one who fits in even less is Daisy, a spirited teenager and fellow unwed mother who is being kept apart from her American boyfriend.
Then a new sonogram of Scarlett’s baby reveals the unexpected. Panicked, she escapes by hijacking a van—only to discover that she has a stowaway: Daisy, who intends to track down the father of her child. The two flee to San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown, where Scarlett will join countless immigrants desperately trying to seize their piece of the American dream. What Scarlett doesn’t know is that her baby’s father is not far behind her.
Abandoned by Allison Brennan
Investigative reporter Max Revere has cracked many cases, but the one investigation she’s never attempted is the mystery from her own past. Her mother abandoned her when she was nine, sending her periodic postcards, but never returning to reclaim her daughter. Seven years after the postcards stop coming, Martha Revere is declared legally dead, with no sign of what may have happened to her. Until now.
With a single clue―that her mother’s car disappeared sixteen years ago in a small town on the Chesapeake Bay―Max drops everything to finally seek the truth. As Max investigates, and her mother’s story unfolds, she realizes that Martha teamed up with a con man. They traveled the world living off Martha’s trust and money they conned from others.
Though no one claims to know anything about Martha or her disappearance, Max suspects more than one person is lying. When she learns the FBI has an active investigation into the con man, Max knows she’s on the right path. But as Max digs into the dark secrets of this idyllic community, the only thing she might find is the same violent end as her mother.
All Happy Families by Jeanne McCulloch
On a mid-August weekend, two families assemble for a wedding at a rambling family mansion on the beach in East Hampton, in the last days of the area’s quietly refined country splendor, before traffic jams and high-end boutiques morphed the peaceful enclave into the “Hamptons.” The weather is perfect, the tent is in place on the lawn.
But as the festivities are readied, the father of the bride, and “pater familias” of the beachfront manse, suffers a massive stroke from alcohol withdrawal, and lies in a coma in the hospital in the next town. So begins Jeanne McCulloch’s vivid memoir of her wedding weekend in 1983 and its after effects on her family, and the family of the groom. In a society defined by appearance and protocol, the wedding goes on at the insistence of McCulloch’s theatrical mother. Instead of a planned honeymoon, wedding presents are stashed in the attic, arrangements are made for a funeral, and a team of lawyers arrive armed with papers for McCulloch and her siblings to sign.
Burden: A Preacher, a Klansman, and a True Story of Redemption in the Modern South by Courtney Hargrave
In 1996, the town of Laurens, South Carolina, was thrust into the international spotlight when a white supremacist named Michael Burden opened a museum celebrating the Ku Klux Klan on the community’s main square. Journalists and protestors flooded the town, and hate groups rallied to the establishment’s defense, dredging up the long history of racial violence in this formerly prosperous mill town. Shortly after his museum opened, Michael Burden abruptly left the Klan at the urging of a woman he fell in love with. Broke and homeless, he was taken in by Reverend David Kennedy, an African American preacher and leader in the Laurens community, who plunged his church headlong in a quest to save their former enemy.
Cherry by Nico Walker
Cleveland, 2003. A young man is just a college freshman when he meets Emily. They share a passion for Edward Albee and Ecstasy and fall hard and fast in love. But soon Emily has to move home to Elba, New York and he flunks out of school and joins the Army. Desperate to keep their relationship alive, they marry before he ships out to Iraq. But as an Army medic, he is unprepared for the grisly reality that awaits him. His fellow soldiers smoke; they huff computer duster; they take painkillers; they watch porn. And many of them die. He and Emily try to make their long-distance marriage work, but when he returns from Iraq, his PTSD is profound, and the drugs on the street have changed. The opioid crisis is beginning to swallow up the Midwest. Soon he is hooked on heroin, and so is Emily. They attempt a normal life, but with their money drying up, he turns to the one thing he thinks he could be really good at–robbing banks.
Feared: A Rosato & DiNunzio Novel by Lisa Scottoline
When three men announce that they are suing the Rosato & DiNunzio law firm for reverse sex discrimination―claiming that they were not hired because they were men―Mary DiNunzio and Bennie Rosato are outraged. To make matters worse, their one male employee, John Foxman, intends to resign, claiming that there is some truth to this case.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer is Nick Machiavelli, who has already lost to Mary once and is now back with a vengeance ―determined not to not only win, but destroy the firm. It soon becomes clear that Machiavelli will do anything in his power to achieve his end…even after the case turns deadly. The stakes have never been higher for Mary and her associates as they try to keep Machiavelli at bay, solve a murder, and save the law firm they love…or they could lose everything they’ve worked for. Told with Scottoline’s trademark gift for twists, turns, heart, and humanity, this latest thriller asks the question: Is it better to be loved, or feared…
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Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
A seventeenth-century Dutch anatomist discovers the Achilles tendon by dissecting his own amputated leg. Chopin’s heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller’s answer.
Mysterium by Susan Froderberg
Mysterium, known as Mount Sarasvati, looms over the Indian Himalayas as the range’s tallest peak in the dazzling fictional world Susan Froderberg has created.
Sarasvati “Sara” Troy is determined to reach the peak for which she was christened, and to climb it in honor of her mother, who perished in a mountaineering accident when Sara was just a child. She asks her father, a celebrated mountaineer and philosophy professor, to organize and lead the expedition.The six climbers he recruits are an uneasy mix. They include his longtime friend Dr. Arun Reddy, a recent widower, and Reddy’s son, who often challenges his father; Wilder Carson, the acclaimed climber who is tormented by the death of his brother; Wilder’s wife, Vida, a former lover of Dr. Reddy; and the distinguished scholar of climbing Virgil Adams and his wife, Hillary. Porters and Sherpas are recruited in India to assist and be part of the team.
Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper
The Connor family is one of the few that is still left in their idyllic fishing village, Big Running; after the fish mysteriously disappeared, most families had no choice but to relocate and find work elsewhere. Aidan and Martha Connor now spend alternate months of the year working at an energy site up north to support their children, Cora and Finn. But soon the family fears they’ll have to leave Big Running for good. And as the months go on, plagued by romantic temptations new and old, the emotional distance between the once blissful Aidan and Martha only widens.
Between his accordion lessons and reading up on Big Running’s local flora and fauna, eleven-year-old Finn Connor develops an obsession with solving the mystery of the missing fish. Aided by his reclusive music instructor Mrs. Callaghan, Finn thinks he may have discovered a way to find the fish, and in turn, save the only home he’s ever known. While Finn schemes, his sister Cora spends her days decorating the abandoned houses in Big Running with global flair—the baker’s home becomes Italy; the mailman’s, Britain. But it’s clear she’s desperate for a bigger life beyond the shores of her small town. As the streets of Big Running continue to empty Cora takes matters—and her family’s shared destinies—into her own hands.
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Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear
Twenty-six-year-old Cat Kinsella overcame a troubled childhood to become a Detective Constable with the Metropolitan Police Force, but she’s never been able to banish these ghosts. When she’s called to the scene of a murder in Islington, not far from the pub her estranged father still runs, she discovers that Alice Lapaine, a young housewife who didn’t get out much, has been found strangled.
Cat and her team immediately suspect Alice’s husband, until she receives a mysterious phone call that links the victim to Maryanne Doyle, a teenage girl who went missing in Ireland eighteen years earlier. The call raises uneasy memories for Cat—her family met Maryanne while on holiday, right before she vanished. Though she was only a child, Cat knew that her charming but dissolute father wasn’t telling the truth when he denied knowing anything about Maryanne or her disappearance. Did her father do something to the teenage girl all those years ago? Could he have harmed Alice now? And how can you trust a liar even if he might be telling the truth?
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The Sapphire Widow by Dinah Jefferies
Ceylon, 1935. Louisa Reeve, the daughter of a successful British gem trader, and her husband Elliot, a charming, thrill-seeking businessman, seem like the couple who have it all. Except what they long for more than anything: a child. While Louisa struggles with miscarriages, Elliot is increasingly absent, spending much of his time at a nearby cinnamon plantation, overlooking the Indian ocean. After his sudden death, Louisa is left alone to solve the mystery he left behind. Revisiting the plantation at Cinnamon Hills, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn towards the owner, Leo, a rugged outdoors man with a checkered past. The plantation casts a spell, but all is not as it seems. And when Elliot’s shocking betrayal is revealed, Louisa has only Leo to turn to.
The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher
Now is the fall of his discontent, as Jason Fitger, newly appointed chair of the English Department of Payne University, takes arms against a sea of troubles, personal and institutional. His ex-wife is sleeping with the dean who must approve whatever modest initiatives he undertakes. The fearsome department secretary Fran clearly runs the show (when not taking in rescue parrots and dogs) and holds plenty of secrets she’s not sharing. The lavishly funded Econ Department keeps siphoning off English’s meager resources and has taken aim at its remaining office space. And Fitger’s attempt to get a mossbacked and antediluvian Shakespeare scholar to retire backfires spectacularly when the press concludes that the Bard is being kicked to the curricular curb.
The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen
In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery to come out of this new field—the study of life’s diversity and relatedness at the molecular level—is horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes across species lines. It turns out that HGT has been widespread and important. For instance, we now know that roughly eight percent of the human genome arrived not through traditional inheritance from directly ancestral forms, but sideways by viral infection—a type of HGT.
In The Tangled Tree David Quammen, “one of that rare breed of science journalists who blends exploration with a talent for synthesis and storytelling” (Nature), chronicles these discoveries through the lives of the researchers who made them—such as Carl Woese, the most important little-known biologist of the twentieth century; Lynn Margulis, the notorious maverick whose wild ideas about “mosaic” creatures proved to be true; and Tsutomu Wantanabe, who discovered that the scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a direct result of horizontal gene transfer, bringing the deep study of genome histories to bear on a global crisis in public health.