Summer can be a great time for new experiences, for trying things you've never done before. And that applies to reading as well--so here are five novels by new writers worth taking a chance on.
From the hoopla of a wartime celebration during a Thanksgiving football game to a divorced woman's gradual fall from grace in Cleveland high society, from a financially struggling ex-punk star coping with the ghosts of her past to young men and women moving in with their parents, these five Character Approved novels will make you think while they entertain you. They'll almost certainly shake up your summer... in the best way. (And, because they're all by writers making their full-length fiction debuts, you'll be able to be among the first to recommend them to your friends!)
[Image: cover to Gilded Age, courtesy Simon & Schuster]
Ben Fountain takes us inside the head of a 19-year-old soldier on Thanksgiving Day, as he and his comrades prepare to be honored during halftime of the Dallas Cowboys game. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a darkly funny (and ultimately bracing) story about young men thrust into heroism and asks if we're really doing all we can to honor their sacrifice. [Image: Thorne Anderson]
When Ellen's husband leaves her and she loses her ad agency job, she's forced to move back to New Jersey and live with her religious parents. Sarah Healy's Can I Get an Amen? starts out funny then takes some serious sharp turns--yet manages to avoid trashing religious faith or becoming sanctimonious as Ellen finds her way back to happiness. [Image: Shem Roose Photography]
Claire McMillan takes the core of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth and transplants it to contemporary Cleveland in Gilded Age. When Eleanor Hart returns home after her first marriage ends in scandal, she immediately plans to find another man who can provide the financial security she's accustomed to--but, as we learn from her best friend's commentary, Ellie proceeds to make one bad choice after another. [Image: Molly Nook]
Lewis Chopik has graduated from Columbia (a year late) and is retreating to his mother's home in Kansas to nurse his wounds after a particularly bad breakup. Home is anything but peaceful, though, especially since his ne'er-do-well brother Seth has unexpectedly shown up. Thad Ziolkowski's Wichita makes us laugh while reminding us how unsettling it is to be 23 and have your entire world destabilizing around you. [Image: Juliana Ellman]
When Quinn was a teenager, her younger sister was killed in a freak accident. Two decades later, as punk rock stardom has come and gone, she's trying to hold it together, but her deepest traumas are proving impossible to shake. As The Listeners unfolds, Leni Zumas takes us back and forth in time as she slowly seduces us into Quinn's haunted psyche. [Image: Dawn Fredericks]
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