Whether you’re bundling up against a chill wind or experiencing a flicker of spring, these books offer a perfect escape—and you can nab them for 50 percent off during Barnes & Noble’s Book Haul Blowout, from February 27 to March 4. Consider this your passport to Nigeria, France, Great Britain, China, the Caribbean, or the Alaskan wilderness, where you’ll lose yourself in the vivid stories of characters striving to make the most of their lives regardless of circumstance.
The Leavers, by Lisa Ko
Lisa Ko’s debut novel The Leavers, a National Book Award finalist and winner of Barbara Kingsolver’s PEN/Bellweather Prize, presents a view of immigration that’s only grown more vital since the novel’s release in 2016. One day, 11-year-old Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, heads to her job at a nail salon in the Bronx and never comes back. Two white college professors eventually adopt Deming, move him to upstate New York, and rename him Daniel Wilkinson. But Deming never forgets his heritage or his mother as he searches for answers about the mystery of her disappearance.
Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In this multiple-award-winning first novel by the author of Americanah, Nigerian teenagers Kambili and her brother Jaja are pulled in two directions by their family members. At home in Enugu, they live under the thumb of their wealthy, domineering, religiously strict father, whose fierce domestic temperament belies the vital services he provides for the community. When the siblings are sent to visit their aunt in Nsukka, they learn there are other ways to live—ways that may offer fewer material comforts but don’t include bodily punishment and inconsistent messages. An immersive and emotional story that provides rich glimpses of Nigerian culture.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See
The bestselling, critically acclaimed author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Shanghai Girls, and China Dolls, See is beloved by readers for her depictions of female friendships and family relationships as seen through a Chinese American lens. Her latest novel is about an Akha ethnic minority girl, Li-yan, who lives in a small mountain village where tea is grown and harvested. She has a daughter out of wedlock whom she is pressured to abandon. The child is adopted by a Southern California family, but the bond between mother and daughter is never completely severed. Fans of historical fiction will appreciate the richly rendered characters, who must navigate different cultures and customs—not just east and west, but urban and rural. Bonus: keep an eye out for See’s forthcoming The Island of Sea Women in March.
The Paris Architect, by Charles Belfoure
To paraphrase Rick in Casablanca, Lucien Barnard “sticks his neck out for nobody,” so when he’s asked to use his considerable architecture skills to create a “priest hole” (secret hiding spot) for a Jewish businessman in 1942 France, he’s reluctant to comply. After all, if he’s caught, the punishment could be death. Soon, however, the challenge of outsmarting the Nazis who have taken over Paris, not to mention the promise of a large payday, motivate him to do his best work. When that’s not enough to keep a child safe, Lucien’s long-dormant sense of responsibility to his fellow man rises to the surface in this compelling historical written by a real architect.
The Room on Rue Amelie, by Kristin Harmel
Harmel’s poignant novels always tug at the heartstrings, whether they concern the past (When We Meet Again), the present (The Life Intended), or both (The Sweetness of Forgetting). With Amelie, she whisks readers to occupied Paris in 1939, where three people’s lives converge: an American newlywed unsure if her marriage can last, a Jewish child fearful of deportation, and a British RAF pilot who has lost his mother to the Blitz and now finds himself cut off behind enemy lines.
Light Over London, by Julia Kelly
Set in London during two timelines—present day and the 1940s—this romantic and heartbreaking story connects two women during pivotal moments in their lives. Recently divorced, modern-day Cara Hargraves is instantly intrigued by the photograph and diary she finds while working at an antique shop. The diary’s author is Louise Keene, a small-town Cornish villager who became a “gunner girl” in World War II in an attempt to serve her country while staying close to Paul Bolton, the RAF pilot she loves (but whom her family dislikes). With her neighbor Liam’s help, Cara inches closer and closer to discovering what became of Louise and the enigmatic Paul, who harbors secrets of his own.
Winter in Paradise, by Elin Hilderbrand
Book one of the Paradise trilogy opens with a most un-relaxing phone call to ring in the new year: 50-something Irene is horrified to learn that her affectionate, jet-setting husband Russ’s body has washed ashore on the Caribbean island of St. John after a helicopter crash. Unbeknownst to Irene, who works as a magazine editor in the Midwest, Russ has been hiding a double life from her that includes a beachfront home and an apparent mistress. Driven to uncover the truth about her duplicitous spouse, Irene flies to St. John’s with her competitive adult sons, Baker and Dash. Fans of Hilderbrand’s Nantucket-set family dramas will feel right at home in this sun-kissed new locale.
Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
“She had imagined that in the Alaska wilderness silence would be peaceful, like snow falling at night, air filled with promise but no sound, but that was not what she found.” Jack and Mabel, homesteaders in the 1920s, originally moved to Alaska to escape their heartache over not being able to bear children. Despite their sadness, the couple’s relationship remains loving and strong, and after building a snow child on a whim, they’re stunned when a seemingly magical child enters their lives soon after. But the girl, Faina, who hunts with a fox by her side, may not be who or what she seems in this exquisite debut.