I think we can all agree: April has buried the lede in terms of spring, at least on the East Coast. By now, the days usually start to feel a bit longer, the chill abates, and with that, there’s a sense of renewal – the first signs of new growth, both literal and metaphorical. At least, that’s how I always remember it, but memory, too, can be a fickle thing. This spring has proven to be the opposite of what’s remembered and expected – an extended time for hibernation, with a bit more winter introspection and major lust for promised warmer weather.
Yet, the sweet side is an extended time to rest, relax and, as always, read. You’ll find a few new releases alongside some soon-to-be released books below, and within the list, hopefully a gem with which to curl up, cozy up and anticipate the coming season. Happy reading!
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones was hands-down one of the most anticipated novels of 2018, and one into which I absolutely submerged myself. It’s a gripping story about a young couple in the South – Roy, who is wrongly convicted of a crime, and his wife, Celestial, who waits for him during his 12-month sentence. The story that unfolds is unexpected, tender, compassionate, quiet, gripping and like nothing we’ve read before – and, at its core, a beautiful narrative with a family at the center. An American Marriage is an "it" book, and deservedly so.
I have mentioned my alternate life as a chef a few times here in this space (and far too many times out of this space among friends, after a glass of wine or two...) and so, the just-released Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll by Andrew Friedman provided the perfect backdrop for all of my unrealized dreams: the bi-coastal 1970s and 80s restaurants of New York and Los Angeles. Behind the scenes with just the right amount of gossip, Friedman paints an exciting and detailed picture of a distinct time and place – when culinary tastes in the United States was shifting, brought to the fore by inventive chefs and restaurateurs, throwing the rules away in favor of the new and the untested, allowing inspiration to guide the ship. This is one of the best “fly on the wall” books I’ve read. It took a few days to bring me down from the reignited rush of my own dream restaurant. For now, it’s still books, but someday...
Meg Wolitzer’s newest book, The Female Persuasion, is of the moment and on the nose. It is written for precisely today – a post-2016 election today. It’s a pageturner, yet is as easy to read as a letter from a friend. Wolitzer knows her characters and creates believable situations for them to bump up against. I couldn’t put the book down and would recommend it to anyone as a light read, yet by the end, I was left wanting for simply more – more character growth, more story, more...something. It’s wrapped up tidily, hopping forward a few years to make the wrap-up convenient and where it was easy and tidy, I yearned for a bit more bite.
Bring Me Back is the newest suspense by B.A Paris, author of last year’s summer sensation, Behind Closed Doors. I always save the suspense for vacation. For me it’s like watching a soap opera – entrancing perfection – and Paris’ latest didn’t disappoint. Bring Me Back is short, succinct and surprising. About 40 pages from the end, I was pretty sure I solved the mystery, but there were enough nuances and loose ends to keep me reading. A strange and frothy read that is pure vacation, this one comes out in June, so definitely save it for the beach bag.
And finally, Tangerine, by debut author Christine Mangan, is a totally fun one that reads like a movie from page one. (The cover helps with that, as it features an Ingrid Bergman-esque woman.) Set in the 1950s, two former best friends and roommates, Alice and Lucy, reconnect in Tangier, with disastrous and creepy results. At times, the book drifts off on weird tangents, but ultimately, that’s not to the book’s detriment. Though this released earlier this month, save Tangerine for the beach or late nights on the porch with a strong gin martini, just like Alice makes.