We changed things up a bit. Last year, we named our favorites. This year, we had too many favorites, partly because we expanded our review team. So, we chose the most memorable debut books and yes, we had the audacity to stop at 20!
So which books emitted an emotion we haven’t felt in a while? Which ones did we not hesitate to blab about? Which ones challenged us to think, reflect, take action?
Never Wave Goodbye – a mother puts her daughter on a bus headed for camp just minutes before the real camp bus arrives. A parent’s worst nightmare comes to life in this book and the suspense is unlike any other!
April and Oliver – a tale of two childhood friends who find themselves drawn together once again as adults with a bond that does not break. I loved the chemistry between them.
Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir – witty, funny, and, at times a sad and frustrating view of our lives through the lens of our health and well-being with regard to our healthcare coverage. Huber hopes that her readers see “the emotional and personal toll that the ‘for profit’ healthcare system has on everyone.”
Women Up On Blocks – a fearless, fully-explored series of stories about how women try to break out of their emotional prisons in a way that will even touch readers who have nothing in common with these women. The stories are honest portraits of how women live through the life they are dealt with courage, strength, and beauty.
Days of Grace – a harrowing, honest tale of life during its most difficult of times. The characters, though deeply conflicted, were relatable and real, showing the honesty of human frailty in relationships.
The Girl She Used To Be – an unforgettable debut novel because the characters are carved so clearly that “fiction” dissolves to the reader and you are drawn right into the world that the writer has created. But what makes the story so incredibly compelling, is the true chords the author achieves with the female character’s inner conflicts, a feat in itself for a male writer.
When Love Was Clean Underwear – masterfully captures the neighborhoods of South Philadelphia. You will love the grace with which the author uses subtle brushstrokes to uncover the layers within her characters. You will love how her language flows and meanders rhythmically across the page.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt – quite the delightful, coming of age southern story about a young girl who learns about love and friendship during a summer in Savannah, GA. You’ll fall in love with the characters! It’s a wonderful story about hope and what it means to be a survivor.
Powder Necklace – a captivating story complete with fully developed characters. Powerful, moving and hard hitting all at the same time.
Murderous Intellectuals – raises the bar on independent thought. Never has a holocaust been told from the ground up! A well-written, untapped look into the minds of the German elites and the Nazi SS.
The Life O’Reilly – a story told as only a man could tell it. O’Reilly climbs the ladder of a prestigious law firm, defines himself and steps out on his own to create his own law firm. He marries and starts a family all while fighting an illness. This book will take you through the ups and downs of a man’s emotions that’s never portrayed to the naked eye. The journey of emotions make it unforgettable.
The Eyes of Willie McGee – a dose of answers, a plethora of questions. A well-documented, vivid retrospective journey of questionable crime and cataclysmic conclusions. What’s memorable is Alex Heard’s complex, yet systematic review of an astonishing time line of a pre-Civil Rights chronicle of events. As such, it is a book that deserves a prominent place in American history.
Cubicide – keenly pitched as a read-in-one-day/ beach book. It never disappointed. I finished it in one day and laughed all the way to the moral of the story. The message? Follow your bliss but don’t miss out on life while doing it. You’ll laugh out loud and ache to re-tell the story to a fellow cube-mate. Cubicide is told in a contagious laughter and that’s why it’s memorable!
Still Missing – a haunting novel about a woman who is abducted by a deranged psychopath and survives. She escapes after a yearlong nightmare with her captor and begins to put together her life, searching for the truth surrounding her abduction.
The Gendarme – a heart-wrenching story about a largely unknown piece of world history, the great deportation of Armenians from Turkey during World War I. It’s a perfect book club selection! It will stimulate group discussion on several topics including memory, genocide and immigration.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – so great a story told that prompts readers to ask questions about their moments in sickness. No greater statement made than to appreciate the advancement of science. Finally, no greater journey celebrated than the access to education for vulnerable humans. This is how I feel now, but this story was then…1950…It’s Henrietta’s story that Rebecca Skloot tells so well.
The Murderer’s Daughters – written with a powerful and deeply emotional voice about a painfully ubiquitous subject that rarely receives the consideration it deserves, that of the collateral damage of domestic violence – the children. Riveting debut – compelling disturbing tale that haunts me when I realize the painful occurrences are neither sporadic or unintentional, and for many, a daily relentless struggle for survival.
Love in Mid Air – insightful portrayal of Elyse Bearden’s authenticity. Wright uses her instinctive ability to quickly tug the reader through the pages with considerable wit and zesty humorous episodes. A believable dilemma, a resilient woman, a genuine resolution. I have no doubt that Elyse is a formidable survivor.
3rd Generation Country – You will remember what was good about your childhood and what was bad but in the end you can laugh about it and go with what you parents taught you! Good values, good character is all we want for our children. A valuable resource and a wise parenting gift.
The Jagged Years of Ruthie J – Picture it – 1960’s – a teen is sent away to a mental hospital for diagnosis of epilepsy. The lack of compassion, the over-sedation is one of the ways Ruthie lures compassion and understanding from the reader. I’ve never seen a story quite like this …it makes you wonder what goes on today in mental hospitals. Prepare for the ethical and philosophical challenges in this memoir.
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