In her first novel since 2009’s Saving Fish from Drowning, Tan again explores the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, control and submission, tradition and new beginnings. Jumping from bustling Shanghai to an isolated village in rural China to San Francisco at the turn of the 19th century, the epic story follows three generations of women pulled apart by outside forces. The main focus is Violet, once a virgin courtesan in one of the most reputable houses in Shanghai, who faces a series of crippling setbacks: the death of her first husband from Spanish influenza, a second marriage to an abusive scam artist, and the abduction of her infant daughter, Flora. In a series of flashbacks toward the book’s end, Violet’s American mother, Lulu, is revealed to have suffered a similar and equally disturbing fate two decades earlier. The choice to cram the truth behind Lulu’s sexually promiscuous adolescence in San Francisco, her life as a madam in Shanghai, and Violet’s reunion with a grown Flora into the last 150 pages makes the story unnecessarily confusing. Nonetheless, Tan’s mastery of the lavish world of courtesans and Chinese customs continues to transport.
Jacqueline Sheehan - The Center of the World
“An epic story of war and peace, love and fear, family and friendship.”—Lori Nelson Spielman In New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Sheehan’s evocative and emotionally compelling novel, a mother and her adopted daughter each embark on a journey of self-discovery in the wake of a stunning revelation. How do you keep a secret so huge that it could devastate everyone you care about? For Kate Malloy, the answer is simple: one lie at a time. That’s how she has protected her daughter for more than a dozen years, shielding her from a terrible truth. Sofia, a fifteen-year-old soccer star living in New England, believes she was born in Mexico and legally adopted by Kate. But a posthumous letter from her stepfather tells Sofia a different story—one of civil unrest and bloodshed, death-defying heroism and child-smuggling, harrowing sacrifice and desperate decisions. Sofia’s trust in her mother is shattered. At last Kate must do what she knows is right—accompany Sofia back to Guatemala, the place where Kate found horror and heartache but also the greatest joy of her life. As mother and daughter confront the damage done by years of dangerous yet necessary deceptions, they discover how much love, hope, and happiness may still remain—if they have the courage to face their past. “A searing tale of love and desperate acts set against a backdrop of surreal beauty and unspeakable cruelty. Enthralling, exhilarating.”—Suzanne Chazin “Page-turning storytelling . . . a deeply satisfying read. I loved this book.”—Randy Susan Meyers “Sheehan’s writing is lively and vivid and her feel for historical detail is fine.”—The New York Times “Sheehan uses her skills as both a psychologist and a writer to create a solid, insightful story.” —Kirkus Reviews
Ha Jin - Waiting
The demands of human longing contend with the weight of centuries of custom in acclaimed author Ha Jin's Waiting, a novel of unexpected richness and universal resonance. Every summer Lin Kong, a doctor in the Chinese Army, returns to his village to end his loveless marriage with the humble and touchingly loyal Shuyu. But each time Lin must return to the city to tell Manna Wu, the educated, modern nurse he loves, that they will have to postpone their engagement once again. Caught between conflicting claims of these two utterly different women and trapped by a culture in which adultery can ruin lives and careers, Lin has been waiting for eighteen years. This year, he promises, will be different.
Joyce Maynard - Labor Day
With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, thirteen-year-old Henry—lonely, friendless, not too good at sports—spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates. For company Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele—a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily. As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy. Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart. But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect piecrust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others—especially those we love—above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for. In a manner evoking Ian McEwan's Atonement and Nick Hornby's About a Boy, acclaimed author Joyce Maynard weaves a beautiful, poignant tale of love, sex, adolescence, and devastating treachery as seen through the eyes of a young teenage boy—and the man he later becomes—looking back at an unexpected encounter that begins one single long, hot, life-altering weekend.
Zoe Fishman - Driving Lessons
From the author of Balancing Acts and Saving Ruth comes the funny, heartwarming, and utterly relatable story of three women, each facing her own transitional moment, and all grappling with the idea of motherhood... When Sarah and her husband trade in a crowded commute, cramped apartment, and high stress New York City jobs for life the slow lane in Farmwood, VA, the pressure is on to have a baby. At thirty-six Sarah knows it's time to get started, but the urgency motivating her to reach this pinnacle of self-fulfillment looms large. Meanwhile, her best friend Mona, a single and successful editor who's always wanted children, is diagnosed with cervical cancer. At the same time, Sarah's younger and seemingly perfect sister-in-law has just given birth to her son, Franklin. When Sarah uproots her new life with her husband in Virginia to return to New York and care for Mona, the three women will help each other navigate their new realities.
Sheila Munro - Lives of Mothers & Daughters
Sheila Munro is the daughter of one of the world's most admired fiction writers: Alice Munro, three-time winner of Canada's prestigious Governor General's Award. In "Lives of Mothers and Daughters," she reveals what it was like to grow up with a mother of such tremendous renown. At the core of the book lies a loving and intimate biography of Alice, presented as only a daughter can. Sheila traces the story back to her ancestors, who left Scotland in the early 19th century, before telling of Alice's birth in 1931, her youth growing up on an Ontario farm, and her two marriages, and two grandchildren - Sheila's own children. Sheila has a tale to tell that's her own as well, involving her writerly aspirations and her efforts to forge a unique path while following in her mother's footsteps. And so, from her perspective as both an author and a mother, Sheila writes frankly about her mother and her mother's writing. The legions of devoted Alice Munro fans will glimpse real-life settings, situations and characters that have worked their way into her fiction as Sheila offers a behind-the-scenes tour (replete with Munro family snapshots) of the inspirations for the tales Munro fans know and love.
Bill Watterson - Scientific Progress Goes "Boink"
Calvin and Hobbes touched the hearts (and funny bones) of the millions who read the award-winning strip. One look at this Calvin and Hobbes collection and it is immediately evident that Bill Watterson's imagination, wit, and sense of adventure were unmatched. In this collection, Calvin and his tiger-striped sidekick Hobbes are hilarious whether the two are simply lounging around philosophizing about the future of mankind or plotting their latest money-making scheme. Chock-full of the familiar adventures of Spaceman Spiff, findings of Dad's popularity poll, and time travel to the Jurrassic Age, Scientific Progress Goes "Boink" is guaranteed to set scientific inquiry back an ean--and advance the reading pleasure of all Calvin and Hobbes fans.
Elizabeth Strout - Amy and Isabelle
Isabelle Goodrow has been living in self-imposed exile with her daughter Amy for 15 years. Shamed by her past and her affair with Amy's father she has submerged herself in the routine of her dead-end job and her unrequited love for her boss. But when Amy, frustrated by her quiet and unemotional mother, embarks on an illicit affair with her maths teacher, the disgrace intensifies the shame Isabelle feels about her own past. Throughout one long, sweltering summer as the events of the small town ebb and flow around them Amy and Isabelle exist in silent conflict until a final act leads ultimately to the understanding they both crave.
Ma Jian - Beijing Coma
Dai Wei is a medical student and a pro-democracy protestor in Tiananmen Square in June 1989. Caught by a soldier's bullet, he falls into a deep coma; as soon as the hospital authorities discover he is an activist, his mother is forced to take him home. She allows pharmacists access to Dai Wei's body and sells his urine and his left kidney to fund special treatment from Master Yao, a member of the outlawed Falun Gong sect. But during a government crackdown, the Master is arrested and Dai Wei's mother - who has fallen in love with him - loses her mind.The millennium draws near and Dai Wei has been in a coma for almost a decade. A sparrow flies through the window and lands on his naked chest; it is a sign that Dai Wei must emerge from his dry cocoon. But China has also undergone a massive transformation in the time that he has been absent. As he prepares to take leave of his old metal bed, Dai Wei realises that the rich imaginative world afforded to him as a coma patient is a startling contrast with the death-in-life of the world outside.
Eleanor Brown - The Weird Sisters
A major new talent tackles the complicated terrain of sisters, the power of books, and the places we decide to call home. There is no problem that a library card can't solve. The Andreas family is one of readers. Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women. When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the others there. See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much. But the sisters soon discover that everything they've been running from-one another, their small hometown, and themselves-might offer more than they ever expected.
Yumi Unita - Bunny Drop 2.
Like a plot out of a soap opera, bachelor Daikichi Kawachi's boringly normal life got a touch of the abnormal when he learned that his late granddad left behind a love child. And further rattling the unexpected skeleton in the closet? The ungainly, unglamorous Daikichi's impulsive decision to take in little Rin! But as the impromptu dad and his charge learn to adapt to both one another and their very new living situation, Daikichi is plagued by thoughts of Rin's mother. Who is she? Why has she been quiet all this time? Hot on the trail after discovering a modem at the old man's computer-less abode, Daikichi plays detective in search for answers. But elementary school enrollment, extracurricular activities, and other parental obligations wait for no man, so when the day of confrontation with the mysterious Masato arrives, will Daikichi be prepared?!
Sarah Dessen - Along for the Ride
Dessen has built a well-deserved reputation for delicately depicting teen girls in turmoil. Her latest title showcases a socially awkward young woman who seeks solace in the comforting rigidity of academic success. Auden is about to start college in the fall, and decides to escape her control-freak professor mom to spend the summer with her novelist father, his new young wife, and their brand-new baby daughter, Thisbe. Over the course of the summer, Auden tackles many new projects: learning to ride a bike, making real connections with peers, facing the emotional fallout of her parents’ divorce, distancing herself from her mother, and falling in love with Eli, a fellow insomniac bicyclist recovering from his own traumas. The cover may mislead readers, as despite the body language of the girl in pink and the hunky blue-jeaned boy balanced on a bike, this is no slight romance: there’s real substance here.
Libby Purves - Passing Go
On the high ground above the great city, Roy and Helen live in brittle affluence inside a weary marriage. Of their four children, three have long vanished into the sprawling, sluttish metropolis beneath: Marcus the dotcom entrepreneur, Shona the shocking Britart princess, and Danny -- the one nobody will talk about. But the last child Zack itches to know more about his lost brother; and gets his chance when the smooth surfaces of family life are abruptly blown apart. Roy is sacked on his fiftieth birthday, stages an unconventional protest in the office doorway and rapidly finds himself a homeless exile in the city's darkest streets. It is Zack's chance to escape down the hill in turn, while his mother Helen makes a bizarre decision of her own.
Richard Llewellyn - How Green Was My Valley
As the slag from the valley's coal-mining shifts slowly over Huw Morgan's home, he relives his life in this once vibrant Welsh community. When the valley was still green and vibrant with life, the youngest son witnesses the events that rock his traditional family of five other brothers and two sisters. It is a time when church deacons use the rule of religion to control crime that is almost non-existent...a time when the concept of a union blows into the valley and slowly grows into the close-knit community's first strike. Through Huw Morgan's eyes, we see family members grow into adulthood and leave home, the development and death of the coal-mining industry in his valley, the laborious birth and growth of a union, the racial clash between the Welsh and the English, and his own personal experiences as he grows into manhood.
Bonnie Jo Campbell - Once Upon a River
Bonnie Jo Campbell has created an unforgettable heroine in sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, a beauty whose unflinching gaze and uncanny ability with a rifle have not made her life any easier. After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her vanished mother. But the river, Margo's childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman traveling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts of those around her. Her river odyssey through rural Michigan becomes a defining journey, one that leads her beyond self-preservation and to the decision of what price she is willing to pay for her choices.
Alice Hoffman - Illumination Night
With her signature "vivid, convincing characters [and] uncommon insight," (People) Alice Hoffman in Illumination Night follows the lives of an old woman whose last mission is to save her granddaughter's soul; a family torn apart by a wife's fears and a husband's desires-and a high school girl who comes to Martha's Vineyard against her will, and who will bring everyone together in a web of yearning, sin, and ultimate redemption. "[A] bright constellation of characters...draws the reader into the dusky, dreamy world of Alice Hoffman." (St. Petersburg Times) "Alice Hoffman hits bull's eyes on the incomprehensions between the young and the old, on the magic and pain of ordinary life. She is erotic and romantic...funny...clever and humane." (The Times, London) "Alice Hoffman takes seemingly ordinary lives and lets us see and feel extraordinary things." (Amy Tan) "One of the best writers we have today-insightful, funny, intelligent, with a distinctive voice." (Cleveland Plain Dealer) "A major novelist." (Newsweek)
Tsitsi Dangarembga - Nervous Conditions
Tambu, an adolescent living in colonial Rhodesia of the '60s, seizes the opportunity to leave her rural community to study at the missionary school run by her wealthy, British-educated uncle. With an uncanny and often critical self-awareness, Tambu narrates this skillful first novel by a Zimbabwe native. Like many heroes of the bildungsroman, Tambu, in addition to excelling at her curriculum, slowly reaches some painful conclusions - about her family, her proscribed role as a woman, and the inherent evils of colonization. Tambu often thinks of her mother, "who suffered from being female and poor and uneducated and black so stoically." Yet, she and her cousin, Nyasha, move increasingly farther away from their cultural heritage. At a funeral in her native village, Tambu admires the mourning of the women, "shrill, sharp, shiny, needles of sound piercing cleanly and deeply to let the anguish in, not out." In many ways, this novel becomes Tambu's keening - a resonant, eloquent tribute to the women in her life, and to their losses.
Jamaica Kincaid - Annie John
Jamaica Kincaid beautifully delineates hatred and fear, because she knows they are often a step away from love and obsession. At the start of Annie John, her 10-year-old heroine is engulfed in family happiness and safety. Though Annie loves her father, she is all eyes for her mother. When she is almost 12, however, the idyll ends and she falls into deep disfavor. This inexplicable loss mars both lives, as each grows adept at public falsity and silent betrayal. The pattern is set, and extended: "And now I started a new series of betrayals of people and things I would have sworn only minutes before to die for." In front of Annie's father and the world, "We were politeness and kindness and love and laughter." Alone they are linked in loathing. Annie tries to imagine herself as someone in a book--an orphan or a girl with a wicked stepmother. The trouble is, she finds, those characters' lives always end happily. Luckily for us, though not perhaps for her alter ego, Kincaid is too truthful a writer to provide such a finale.