23 of the Best Books Fall 2018
A Stranger’s PoseBy Emmanuel Iduma A unique blend of travelogue, musings and poetry, A Stranger’s Pose draws the reader into a world of encounters haunted by the absence of home, estrangement from a lover and family tragedies. The author’s recollections and reflections of fragments of his journeys to African cities, from Dakar to Douala, Bamako to Benin, and Khartoum to Casablanca, offer a compelling and very personal meditation on the meaning of home and the generosity of strangers to a lone traveller. Alongside accounts of the author’s own travels are other narratives about movement, intimacy, the power of language and translation. I received an ARC of this book from Cassava Republic Press. With a foreword by author Teju Cole and the element of photography, I’m really looking forward to reading this one. Out Oct 16, 2018
All You Can Ever Know: A MemoirNicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up—facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from—she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth. With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and it has been one of the most raved about forthcoming memoirs! I plan to start September reading this one! Out Oct 2, 2018
Short Story Collections
Useful Phrases for ImmigrantsBy May-Lee Chai With luminous prose and sharp-eyed observations, Chai reveals her characters’ hopes and fears, and our own: a grieving historian seeking solace from an old lover in Beijing, a young girl discovering her immigrant mother’s infidelity, workers constructing a shopping mall in central China who make a shocking discovery. Families struggle with long-held grudges, reinvent traditions, and make mysterious visits to shadowy strangers from their past―all rendered with economy and beauty. With hearts that break and sometimes mend, with families who fight and sometimes forgive, the timely stories in Useful Phrases for Immigrants illuminate complicated lives with empathy and passion. Chai’s stories are essential reading for an increasingly globalized world. Out Oct 23, 2018
The Lonesome BodybuilderA housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique, which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking commuters struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon, until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A saleswoman in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won’t come out of the fitting room, and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices that her spouse’s features are beginning to slide around his face to match her own. In these eleven stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien―and find a doorway to liberation. Although quirky Japanese stories can be a hit or miss for me, this translated collection of short stories is one I’m eager to experience. Out Nov 6, 2018.
The Kinship of SecretsIn 1948 Najin and Calvin Cho, with their young daughter Miran, travel from South Korea to the United States in search of new opportunities. Wary of the challenges they know will face them, Najin and Calvin make the difficult decision to leave their infant daughter, Inja, behind with their extended family; soon, they hope, they will return to her. But then war breaks out in Korea, and there is no end in sight to the separation. Miran grows up in prosperous American suburbia, under the shadow of the daughter left behind, as Inja grapples in her war-torn land with ties to a family she doesn’t remember. Najin and Calvin desperately seek a reunion with Inja, but are the bonds of love strong enough to reconnect their family over distance, time, and war? And as deep family secrets are revealed, will everything they long for be upended? I was all in after Min JinLee called it “a gorgeous achievement”. Out Nov 6, 2018.
A Cloud In The Shape of a GirlBy Jean Thompson A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl is a poignant novel about three generations of the Wise family—Evelyn, Laura, and Grace—as they hunt for contentment amid chaos of their own making. In A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl we see these women and their trials, small and large: social slights and heartbreaks; marital disappointments and infidelities; familial dysfunction; mortality. Spanning from World War II to the present, Thompson reveals a matrilineal love story that is so perfectly grounded in our time—a story of three women regressing, stalling, and yes, evolving, over decades. One of the burning questions she asks is: by serving her family, is a woman destined to repeat the mistakes of previous generations, or can she transcend the expectations of a place, and a time? Can she truly be free? As a lover of family sagas, I was intrigued by the blurb of this novel. Thankfully, I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher and look forward to reading it soon! Out Oct 9, 2018
Family TrustMeet Stanley Huang: father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable tastes and temper, aficionado of all-inclusive vacations and bargain luxury goods, newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. For years, Stanley has claimed that he’s worth a small fortune. But the time is now coming when the details of his estate will finally be revealed, and Stanley’s family is nervous. As Stanley’s death approaches, the Huangs are faced with unexpected challenges that upend them and eventually lead them to discover what they most value. A compelling tale of cultural expectations, career ambitions and our relationships with the people who know us best, Family Trust skewers the ambition and desires that drive Silicon Valley and draws a sharply loving portrait of modern American family life. This book came recommended by author Crystal Hana Kim and I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC. Another family centric story I’m excited to read. Out Oct 30, 2018. [bctt tweet=”23 books to watch this fall! Fiction, Non Fiction, Middle Grade recs and more!” username=”afomaumesi”]
My Sister, The Serial KillerKorede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit. Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her. I loved Braithwaite’s novella, Thicker Than Water and I’m EXCITED to read this book! Thankfully, I received an ARC of this one too! Out Nov 20, 2018.
MIDDLE GRADE & YA FICTION
SquintFlint loves to draw. In fact, he’s furiously trying to finish his comic book so he can be the youngest winner of the “Find a Comic Star” contest. He’s also rushing to finish because he has keratoconus—an eye disease that could eventually make him blind. McKell is the new girl at school and immediately hangs with the popular kids. Except McKell’s not a fan of the way her friends treat this boy named Squint. He seems nice and really talented. He draws pictures of superheroes. McKell wants to get to know him, but is it worth the risk? What if her friends catch her hanging with the kid who squints all the time? This one has been getting so many rave reviews and I never tire of middle grade books about friendship against the odds. ARC received from the publisher. Out Oct 2, 2018.
The Reckless ClubOn the last day of middle school, five kids who couldn’t be more different commit separate pranks, each sure they won’t be caught and they can’t get in trouble. They’re wrong. As punishment, they each have to volunteer one beautiful summer day-the last one before school-at Northbrook Retirement and Assisted Living Home, perform the world’s most pathetic skit in front of residents who won’t remember it anyway and somehow forge a bond with each other that has nothing to do with what they’ve done and everything to do with who they’re becoming. All the action takes place in the course of this one day, with each chapter one hour of that day, as the five kids reveal what they’ve done, why they did it, and what they’re going to do now. I find the plot of this book very interesting, especially with the whole book focusing on the events of just ONE DAY. The author Beth Vrabel has a great reputation and I look forward to reading this one. Out Oct 2, 2018.
SadieSadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him. When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late. What’s a book list without a gripping thriller? I’m currently in the middle of this one and so far, I’m loving it! Fun fact, there’s an actual podcast based on the book! Currently, listening to that as well, if you were wondering. I also received an ARC from the publisher. Out Sept 4, 2018.
Merci Suarez Changes GearsThanks to Candlewick Press for a free ARC of this book. Merci Suarez is an eleven year old grappling with challenges like new classes, attending a posh private school where all her classmates are wealthier and a grandfather who’s becoming more and more forgetful. Still, Merci is one of the most outstanding characters I’ve read. She’s brilliant, confident and fiercely determined. I loved so many things about this book: Merci’s loud, big hearted family, whose voices I could literally hear while I read, her laugh-out-loud humor and the completely riveting experience that this book is. This is definitely in my top five this year! Out Sept 11, 2018
Hearts UnbrokenWhen Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students — especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou’s little brother, who’s playing the Tin Man. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey — but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s? Out Oct 9, 2018
Girls on The LineSixteen-year-old Luli has just aged out of the orphanage where she grew up, and her childhood friend Yun helps her get a job at the factory where Yun works. Both girls enjoy the freedom of making their own decisions and earning their own money—until Yun gets pregnant by her boyfriend, who’s rumored to be a human trafficker. China’s restrictive family planning laws put Yun in a difficult position: she’ll either have to have an expensive abortion or face crippling fines for having a child out of wedlock. When she disappears, it’s up to Luli to track her down and find a way to help her. This sounds like such a chilling read and I can’t wait to get into it. I received an ARC from the publisher. Out Nov 1, 2018.
Counting to PerfectJulia used to be the perfect big sister: she played great games and took good care of Cassie. Now life at home revolves around Julia and her daughter, Addie. No one pays much attention to Cassie: not to her competitive swim meets, and not to what’s gone wrong with her friends. When Julia confides in Cassie that she’ll be leaving with Addie–without telling their parents–Cassie jumps in the car, too. As the days of lumberjack breakfasts and hotel pools start to add up, Cassie has to wonder: Could the sister who seems to be the source of all her problems also be the friend she’s missed the most? Out Oct 23, 2018.
The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden GardenWhile Isa is off at sleepaway orchestra camp, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney are stuck at home in the brownstone with nothing to do but get on one another’s nerves. But when catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor, their sleepy summer transforms in an instant as the Vanderbeeker children band together to do what they do best: make a plan. They will create the most magical healing garden in all of Harlem. In this companion to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, experience the warmth of a family and their community as they work together to bring a little more beauty and kindness to the world, one thwarted plan at a time. I simply adore The Vanderbeekers and will read anything Karina Yan Glaser writes, so of course I pre-ordered this one! It’s out Sept 25, 2018.
Astrid the UnstoppablePippi Longstocking meets Heidi meets Anne Shirley in this tale of an irrepressible girl in a mountain village who navigates unexpected changes with warmth and humor. Speed and self-confidence, that’s Astrid’s motto. Nicknamed “the little thunderbolt,” she loves to spend her days racing down the hillside on her sled, singing loudly as she goes, and visiting Gunnvald, her grumpy, septuagenarian best friend and godfather, who makes hot chocolate from real chocolate bars. She just wishes there were other children to share her hair-raising adventures with. But Astrid’s world is about to be turned upside down by two startling arrivals to the village of Glimmerdal: first a new family, then a mysterious, towering woman who everyone seems to know but Astrid. It turns out that Gunnvald has been keeping a big secret from his goddaughter, one that will test their friendship to its limits. Astrid is not too happy about some of these upheavals in Glimmerdal — but, luckily, she has a plan to set things right. This one looks too cute! Plus, it’s a translated middle grade novel. I’m glad to have received an ARC from the publisher!
The Benefits of Being an OctopusIt’s not often that you read a middle grade novel with a protagonist dealing with real “adult” challenges. Zoey is too busy to do things that other kids can indulge in without a second thought. I enjoyed the way Ann Braden handles all the subplots in this story, from Fuschia, Silas, to Zoey’s mom and even the kids in her school. I finished this feeling like I understood all the characters. Still, at the crux of the matter of this book is a powerful debate and it’s clear that Braden wants us to view the issue she addresses from a different perspective. I definitely think this book will generate great conversation and that’s important. Out Sept 4, 2018.
Everlasting NoraAfter a family tragedy results in the loss of both father and home, 12-year-old Nora lives with her mother in Manila’s North Cemetery, which is the largest shantytown of its kind in the Philippines today. When her mother disappears mysteriously one day, Nora is left alone. With help from her best friend Jojo and the support of his kindhearted grandmother, Nora embarks on a journey riddled with danger in order to find her mom. Along the way she also rediscovers the compassion of the human spirit, the resilience of her community, and everlasting hope in the most unexpected places. Out Oct 2, 2018.
PICTURE BOOKS TO DIE FOR[bctt tweet=”4 Picture books to DIE for this fall! @penguinrandom @lantanapub @PAPress” username=”afomaumesi”]
Good Morning, NeighborI received an ARC of this picture book from the publisher. A lovely story about the beauty of collaboration, friendship and inclusion. Unique illustrations too! I loved this one. Out Sept 4, 2018.
DreamersThanks to Neal Porter Books for an electronic Advance Reader’s Copy of this picture book. Striking illustrations fill this beautiful book, but the story in its pages is even more heartwarming! Based on Morales’ own experience as an immigrant, DREAMERS highlights the disorienting experience of moving countries, especially with a language barrier. She also centers the story on the gift of books and the library at a time when she most needed to find home. I enjoyed this one tremendously and believe it’s a necessary addition to your picture book collection! Out Sept 4, 2018.
Time for Bed, MiyukiThanks to Princeton Architectural Press for such a whimsical experience. Truly, quaint illustrations of a little girl who just does not want to go to bed. Loved this one. Out Sept 18, 2018.
Sing to the MoonI received this gorgeous picture book from Lantana Publishing about a Ugandan boy who’s stuck at home with his grandfather on a rainy day. As the two engage in mundane chores and daily activities narrated in rhymes, it is clear that magic can exist anywhere with the right stories. Particularly, I enjoyed how intimate and enchanting this one was, in addition to the warm relationship between grandfather and grandson showcased in the book. The illustrations are also dreamy and unique as can be expected from Lantana Publishing! Out Oct 1, 2018.
These are just a few of my loved or highly anticipated reads this fall — some of the very best books of fall 2018 (even though it’s more like rainy season where I live). Which books, new or not so new are you excited to read in the last quarter of this year?