| By Thorndike Staff |
Though we can’t think of a time when “happily ever after” would be more welcome, life isn’t usually that rosy. Our February picks delve into lives marked by hardship, questionable choices, and uneasy situations. But there are also glimpses of hope and joy to remind readers that even in the darkest times, optimism fuels our ability to put one foot in front of the other time and time again.
Luster by Raven Leilani
Her life was one hot mess in a free fall, downward spiral. A 23-year-old Black woman, Edie’s got a dead-end job, repugnant apartment, and an adventurous but unfulfilling love life. It all becomes more complicated when she meets Eric, an older white man in an open marriage who brings his wife and daughter into her orbit. Negotiating these relationships and unexpected influences, Edie pivots and turns as she tries to make sense of her life.
“An irreverent intergenerational tale of race and class that’s blisteringly smart and fan-yourself sexy.”
— O, The Oprah Magazine
“Edie is unforgettable, and so is Luster, a novel that shines with a distinctive darkness.”
My Brilliant Life by Ae-ran Kim
Just 16 years old, Areum is housebound with an accelerated-aging disorder that makes him resemble an 80-year-old. Intent on living life to its fullest, he delights in relationships with his parents and Little Grandpa Jang—his 60-year-old neighbor and best friend. As Areum continues to age and his world shrinks, he hangs on to his joy as he works on a final, surprising gift for his mom and dad.
“Compounding moments of insight and joy resonate deeply, with heartwarming results.”
“This novel snuck up on me and captured my heart.”
— Margarita Montimore, USA Today bestselling author of Oona Out of Order
This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear
Downton Abbey. The Crown. The Royals. Americans are infatuated with British culture. After 16 novels, Jacqueline Winspear reveals both hardships and joys in this deeply personal memoir and portrayal of a post-World War II England. She details her mother’s evacuation from London during the Blitz, her father’s assignment to an explosives team during WWII, and an abundance of family secrets.
“The book will appeal well beyond Winspear’s fan base as a literary memoir deeply linked to history and as a meditation on place and family.”
— Library Journal, starred review
“An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.”
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton
Childhood secrets, at least the not-so-innocent ones, seem destined to surface.Cadie, a forestry researcher, receives an urgent message from her long-estranged best friend, Daniela, about the discovery of a body that had been forgotten for 27 years. Together they must face the dark secret that ended their childhood bond and determine the sacrifices they’re willing to now make.
“Dalton’s debut is a story of friendship, family, and the consequences of acting out of fear, especially when those actions are performed to protect those we love.”
“Stirring . . . a taut novel that builds suspense to the very end.”
— Publishers Weekly