Each month, I will pick a handful of buzzworthy and under the radar debut books I feel you’ll enjoy.
This was a difficult month to narrow down. I wanted to highlight some debuts that I didn’t feel like everyone would know. For example New Yorker critic Jia Tolentino is releasing a collection of 9 must-read essays in Trick Mirror that I am sure will get all of the respectful coverage it deserves. Still, I wanted to highlight it for how special it is. So here I am highlighting it.
Below you’ll find heart touching coming-of-age tales, explorations in race, class, and sexuality, as well as a gripping short story collection.
The Could Have Named Her Anything by Stephanie Jiminez (Little A; August 1)
A coming-of-age story about Maria, a Latina teen in New York City who befriends a rebellious white girl. Balancing the line between what is marketed as YA and what is marketed as adult fiction, the main character enters a sexual relationship that is either leaving readers with an eye-opening experience or completely turns them off of the book. You decide.
Particular Kind of Black Man by Tope Folarin (Simon & Schuster; August 6)
This is the type of book I wish I could put into so many people’s hands directly. It follows a Nigerian family living in Utah, trying to assimilate to American life. The main character, Tunde, was born there to his immigrant parents and even has an American accent. Still, he struggles to fit in and then his world is turned upside down when his mother makes a drastic decision. It is an extremely powerful story with equally as powerful and explosive prose.
All the Water in the World by Karen Raney (Scribner; August 6)
In the midst of dealing with her relationship with her mother, learning to love for the first time, and all of the pains of being 16-years-old, Maddy is also diagnosed with cancer. Told between alternating chapters from Maddy and then her mother’s perspective, the story is equally heartwarming and heartbreaking.
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom (Grove Press; August 13)
Broom writes a memoir about 1960s hope that dissolves over half a century. Centered around the yellow house her mother Ivory Mae purchased in New Orleans East, she writes about a childhood filled with joy playing in and around that house. As the years past, the house as well as the city, began to crumble. Finally, once Hurricane Katrina devastated the area, the family home entered its final stage of life.
Hard Mouth by Amanda Goldblatt (Counterpoint; August 13)
After her father announces he has terminal cancer and won’t take any medication to combat it, Denny withdraws from life and enters a cabin in the woods. At times a meditative look into life and loss, the novel delves into psychological moments that can only be described as thrilling.
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons (Vintage; August 13)
This collection put a spell on me. They are the type of stories that feel like I have lived in them while also being such a unique, sometimes unsettling experience. Expect perspectives you’ve never considered before as you dive into this book.