Do you want to be on the forefront of literature? Read the books right of the press, the ink still wet on the page? We handpick the best of the best of the newest of the newest books for you every week. Books that seem interesting to us and that you might like as well.
This week we have a YA novel that will make you want to break all the rules, a great short story collection with an awesome title, a poetic debut novel and another debut about being a young woman in the America of today.
Never Always Sometimes
Never date your best friend
Always be original
Sometimes rules are meant to be broken
Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.
Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.
Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.
Barbara The Slut and Other People
Fearless, candid, and incredibly funny, Lauren Holmes is a newcomer who writes like a master. She tackles eros and intimacy with a deceptively light touch, a keen awareness of how their nervous systems tangle and sometimes short-circuit, and a genius for revealing our most vulnerable, spirited selves.
In “Desert Hearts,” a woman takes a job selling sex toys in San Francisco rather than embark on the law career she pursued only for the sake of her father. In “Pearl and the Swiss Guy Fall in Love,” a woman realizes she much prefers the company of her pit bull—and herself—to the neurotic foreign fling who won’t decamp from her apartment. In “How Am I Supposed to Talk to You?” a daughter hauls a suitcase of lingerie to Mexico for her flighty, estranged mother to resell there, wondering whether her personal mission—to come out—is worth the same effort. And in “Barbara the Slut,” a young woman with an autistic brother, a Princeton acceptance letter, and a love of sex navigates her high school’s toxic, slut-shaming culture with open eyes.
With heart, sass, and pitch-perfect characters, Barbara the Slut is a head-turning debut from a writer with a limitless career before her.
Into The Valley
Ruth Galm’s spare, poetic debut novel, set in the American West of early Joan Didion, traces the drifting path of a young woman caught between generations as she skirts the law and her own oppressive anxiety.
Into the Valley opens on the day in July 1967 when B. decides to pass her first counterfeit check and flee San Francisco for the Central Valley. Unmarried at 30, B. doesn’t understand the youth counterculture but doesn’t fit into her mother’s world of dresses and kid gloves.
B. is beset by a disintegrative anxiety she calls “the carsickness,” and the only relief comes in handling illicit checks and driving endlessly through the valley. As she travels the bare, anonymous landscape, meeting an array of other characters—an alcoholic professor, a bohemian teenage girl, a criminal admirer—B.’s flight becomes that of a woman unraveling, a person lost between who she is and who she cannot yet be.
Make Your Home Among Strangers
Jennine Capó Crucet
When Lizet-the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school-secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college, her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami. Just weeks before she’s set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and Leidy-Lizet’s older sister, a brand-new single mom-without a steady income and scrambling for a place to live.
Amidst this turmoil, Lizet begins her first semester at Rawlings College, distracted by both the exciting and difficult moments of freshman year. But the privileged world of the campus feels utterly foreign, as does her new awareness of herself as a minority. Struggling both socially and academically, she returns to Miami for a surprise Thanksgiving visit, only to be overshadowed by the arrival of Ariel Hernandez, a young boy whose mother died fleeing with him from Cuba on a raft. The ensuing immigration battle puts Miami in a glaring spotlight, captivating the nation and entangling Lizet’s entire family, especially her mother.
Pulled between life at college and the needs of those she loves, Lizet is faced with difficult decisions that will change her life forever. Urgent and mordantly funny, Make Your Home Among Strangers tells the moving story of a young woman torn between generational, cultural, and political forces; it’s the new story of what it means to be American today.
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