September 2023 Must-Haves

7 min read

| By Tamara Butler |

As summer winds down and cool fall days lie ahead, it’s time to snuggle up with a warm blanket and a pumpkin latte while becoming immersed in fictional worlds with captivating characters who face breakups, disappointments, chronic pain, substance abuse, and lost dreams while learning to forge new paths and regain the ability to trust again. This September, Thorndike offerings include the story of a man who lost everything and only then really finds himself (Such Kindness), a 30-year-old Muslim woman in Toronto who has to decide whether to leave the failures of her past behind if she is going to find love in her future (Much Ado About Nada), a book publicist whose well-planned future is thrown off course when an intriguing male roommate suddenly appears in her apartment (The Seven Year Slip), and an epic World War II tale about a woman leaving an abusive boyfriend to join the Red Cross, becoming part of the legendary “Donut Dollies” while finding another chance at love—if she can learn to trust a man with her heart again (Good Night, Irene).

Such Kindness by Andre Dubus III
Starred Reviews – Publishers Weekly & Booklist

Tom Lowe’s fall was catastrophic—a moment of fatigued inattention while shingling a roof leading to excruciating pain, opioid addiction, divorce, and estrangement from his son. Yet Tom still considers himself a worker, unlike his shiftless neighbors in subsidized housing. And he resents the hell out of the banker and adjustable-rate mortgage responsible for foreclosure on the home he built himself. After his car is impounded, Tom stoops lower than he ever thought possible, with a scheme to commit convenience-check fraud. But in digging through literal trash, Tom finds that something new begins to grow: a recognition of common humanity, a self-acceptance deeper than pride, a determination to give what he can. Still, he’ll need to fall even farther before he finds a new place to rest. To one man’s painful moral journey, Andre Dubus III brings compassion with an edge of dark absurdity, forging a novel as absorbing as it is profound. 

Much Ado About Nada by Uzma Jalaluddin
A sparkling second-chance romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion,

Nada Syed is stuck. On the cusp of thirty, she’s still living at home with her brothers and parents in the Golden Crescent neighborhood of Toronto, resolutely ignoring her mother’s unsubtle pleas to get married already. While Nada has a good job as an engineer, it’s a far cry from realizing the start-up dreams for her tech baby, Ask Apa, the app that launched with a whimper instead of a bang because of a double-crossing business partner. Nothing in her life has turned out the way it was supposed to, and Nada feels like a failure. Something needs to change, but the past is holding on too tightly to let her move forward. Nada’s best friend, Haleema, is determined to pry her from her shell … and what better place than at the giant annual Muslim conference downtown, where Nada can finally meet Haleema’s fiancé, Zayn? And did Haleema mention Zayn’s brother Baz will be there? What Haleema doesn’t know is that Nada and Baz have a past—some of it good, some of it bad, and all of it secret. At the conference, that past all comes hurtling back at Nada, bringing new complications and a moment of reckoning. Can she truly say goodbye to what once was, or should she hold tight to her dreams and find their new beginnings?

The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston
Starred Review – Publishers Weekly
A Most Anticipated Book by Entertainment Weekly, Harper’s Bazaar, PopSugar, Real Simple, and Book Riot.

Sometimes, the worst day of your life happens, and you have to figure out how to live after it. So, Clementine forms a plan to keep her heart safe: work hard, find someone decent to love, and try to remember to chase the moon. The last one is silly and obviously metaphorical, but her aunt always told her that you needed at least one big dream to keep going. And for the last year, that plan has gone off without a hitch. Mostly. The love part is hard because she doesn’t want to get too close to anyone—she isn’t sure her heart can take it. And then she finds a strange man standing in the kitchen of her late aunt’s apartment. A man with kind eyes and a Southern drawl and a taste for lemon pies. The kind of man that, before it all, she would’ve fallen head-over-heels for. And she might again. Except, he exists in the past. Seven years ago, to be exact. And she, quite literally, lives seven years in his future. Her aunt always said the apartment was a pinch in time, a place where moments blended together like watercolors. And Clementine knows that if she lets her heart fall, she’ll be doomed. 

Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea
New York Times Bestseller
Indie Next Pick

Starred Reviews – Publishers Weekly & Kirkus In 1943, Irene Woodward abandons an abusive fiancé in New York to enlist with the Red Cross and head to Europe. She makes fast friends in training with Dorothy Dunford, a towering Midwesterner with a ferocious wit. Together they are part of an elite group of women, nicknamed Donut Dollies, who command military vehicles called Clubmobiles at the front line, providing camaraderie and a taste of home that may be the only solace before troops head into battle. After D-Day, these two intrepid friends join the Allied soldiers streaming into France. Their time in Europe will see them embroiled in danger, from the Battle of the Bulge to the liberation of Buchenwald. Through her friendship with Dorothy, and a love affair with a courageous American fighter pilot named Hans, Irene learns to trust again. Her most fervent hope, which becomes more precarious by the day, is for all three of them to survive the war intact. Taking as inspiration his mother’s own Red Cross service, Luis Alberto Urrea has delivered an overlooked story of women’s heroism in World War II. With its affecting and uplifting portrait of friendship and valor in harrowing circumstances.

About the Author

Tamara Butler is an acquisitions editor with over 20 years prior experience in public and academic libraries. She has a master’s degree in library science from the University of Buffalo and a master of fine arts in writing from Lindenwood University. When not checking out the latest Southern gothic novels, Tamara loves to spend time on New England beaches and hang out with her two energetic beagles.

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