Shout out to Daylight Savings time for giving us more hours in the day. Coincidentally (and quite fortunately) there are a plethora of literary gems to look forward to reading outside under the sun this upcoming season. Although it may not quite yet be time to stock up on lighthearted summer “beach reads,” here’s an equally thrilling precursor: books to actually be excited about this spring.
“Normal People” by Sally Rooney, April 16
Sally Rooney, a 28-year-old author referred to as “the voice of her generation” by the Washington Post, has released her second novel, “Normal People.” The book shares the story of two teens, Connell and Marianne, who are social opposites. Connell is exuberantly extroverted while Marianne is lonely and selective with who she socializes with. Despite mutual family friends, they generally steer clear of one another.
Though, when studying together a year later at Trinity College in Dublin, they find they’ve essentially swapped social roles and are ultimately drawn to each other. With subtle commentary on class stratification and keen psychological insight, “Normal People” has been longlisted for the 2018 Booker Prize and won a Post Irish Book Award, matching the praise of Rooney’s 2017 debut novel, “Conversations with Friends.”
“Neon Prey” by John Sandford, April 23
#1 New York Times-bestselling author John Sandford has a new mystery book, “Neon Prey,” in which he tracks a prolific serial killer. The main character, Clayton Deese, is a small-time criminal who recently got out of jail for a job that went awry when he was hired to kill someone for a loan shark in New Orleans.
Deese managed to get off without paying his bail, and the U.S. Marshal is after him to collect it. But, instead they find a trail of graves behind his Louisiana cabin, making Deese the primary suspect of serial killings in the area. Although the 29th book in the “Prey” series, “Neon Prey” has an individualistic storyline that lets it stand alone, separate from the 28 books prior.
“Where We Come From” by Oscar Cásares, May 21
Oscar Casares’ strikingly relevant, newest novel is about a Mexican-American family in Brownsville, Texas, who find themselves smuggling undocumented immigrants across country lines. Twelve-year-old Orly stays with his godmother in a border town the summer after his mother passes away. Where they live is not far from the infamous clan of drug-trafficking immigrants and deep in the empathetic, difficult lives of refugees seeking asylum in the United States.
“Where We Come From” explores connections of family history and the importance of land in cultural identity, bringing humanization to prevalent political conversations.
“Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors” by Sonali Dev, May 7
Sonali Dev has launched a new book series about the Raj’s: a San Francisco family that immigrated to the U.S. from India. They adhere to strict rules, like not trusting people outside of the family, which daughter Dr. Trisha Raj routinely breaks, making her the least favored among her parents and siblings.
“Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors” is a story of assimilation into the United States and romance between two people with vastly different backgrounds. Dev tends to focus her work on Bollywood-style love stories and issues that immigrant women face in the United States.
“On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong, June 4
“On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous” is a letter from a son to a mother who can’t read. The speaker, 20-something-year-old Little Dog traces the story of their shared family history, which began in Vietnam years before he was born and migrated to Hartford, Connecticut.
It is an exploration of race, class, masculinity and the inherent power of personal storytelling. “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” is poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel. It has been named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Vulture, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Oprah.com, The Guardian and more.