Faye A. Chadwell

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The final twist and thus the novel fail in large part because the epilogue introduces an abrupt structural shift and an unsatisfying change in narrative voice for which readers are not well-prepared and which takes the book in a different direction.

The Morningside

Obreht draws upon plausible dystopian and postapocalyptic futures and strong elements from Serbian folktales, as well as magical realism. The result is a strange, almost dreamlike novel, distinctive for its memorable characters and beautiful writing.

House of Caravans

An auspicious debut, recommended for readers seeking a bittersweet, sweeping saga exploring the chaos and divisiveness brought forth by Partition.

Hard by a Great Forest

Vardiashvili’s amazing and poignant tale of loss and resilience draws readers in with compelling descriptions of land and place. Saba encounters horrid acts of violence or their aftermath, but he also finds beauty, even magic and mystery. A remarkable debut certain to be longlisted for multiple awards, if not shortlisted for several.


Through Bunny, a likable enough person with inherent flaws, Kiesling creates a powerful “everyperson” archetype for whom political inertia is the modus operandi, proffering an honest and damning reflection on why the personal is political.

Community Board

Conklin offers a positive message about a community working through its quirkiness and differences to solve problems together, but its upbeat message may not be enough to counterbalance Darcy’s adolescent self-absorption.

Wade in the Water

With expert character development, Nkrumah gives memorable voice to a young woman struggling to overcome familial abuse and find her way in the world. A strength of this novel is how sharply different Katherine’s portrayal is compared with white characters in novels like Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. For readers who enjoyed Alice Walker’s Meridian and Jas Hammonds’s YA novel We Deserve Monuments.

Demon Copperhead

Kingsolver has successfully created an authentic voice for her teenage protagonist, a voice at once heartbreaking, humorous (often at his own expense), and ultimately resilient. This highly recommended work is an excellent read in conjunction with Beth Macy’s Dopesick and J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy (both nonfiction) and novels like Tess Gunty’s The Rabbit Hutch and Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone.

All This Could Be Different

Using humor and beautiful prose, Mathews successfully tackles timely and serious subjects. Despite all the hardships they face, Sneha and the other well-rounded characters are able to build their futures because enduring friendships enable them to persist and even thrive. Ultimately, the novel’s title is its prophetic and vitally hopeful message. Highly recommended.

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