What to Read in April
Molly: Feed, by M. T. Anderson
If you are still on board for sharp, futuristic dystopian fiction, you won’t regret picking up Feed. It’s difficult to put down and impossible to stop thinking about once you’ve finished it. Smart, caustic, and incisively predictive of a world we may inhabit in the not-too-distant future, it’s a bracing, highly recommended story.
Joel: A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
How a writer (also named Ruth) happens to come across a Japanese teenager’s diary washed up on a beach in British Columbia is the mystery that drives the dual narrative in this fantastic novel (a finalist for the Man Booker Prize), but one character will keep you coming back to it: Nao, the troubled, frustrating, hilarious teenager whose diary at first seems like an extended suicide letter, but becomes something much greater.
Dahlia: Pointe, by Brandy Colbert
Colbert’s debut is a wonderfully written subversion of YA trope and stereotype, set in the world of a ballet dancer whose self-destructive coping mechanism comes back to haunt her when a secret from her past collides with her promising future.
Sara: Her Kind of Trouble, by Sarah Mayberry
Mayberry’s latest combines a sexy the-one-that-got-away story with some heavy emotional lifting. The result is cathartic yet warm, and as ever, her characters feel like people you want to be friends with.
Nicole: Vicious, by V.E. Schwab
It should come as no surprise considering its title that Schwab’s story is filled with, let’s say, morally dubious characters, but when two competitive college roommates start delving into nature’s mysteries—specifically the death-defying conditions necessary to produce ExtraOrdinary (superheroic) humans—the jealousy escalates, the bodies pile up, and the pages turn quickly.
Lauren: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand
Hillenbrand’s well-researched book covers the innumerable astounding feats of Louie Zamperini, who ran track in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and was slated to menace the 1940 games until the Olympics were cancelled due to the war. Even though he was afraid of planes, Louie became an Army Air Forces bombardier. While on a search and rescue mission, Louie’s plane crashed in the ocean, and he was left to survive on a raft with two others, scarcely any food, and the relentless threat of sharks. But that’s really where the story begins. Louie is captured by the Japanese and endures the most horrific torture imaginable. He was beaten, starved, and belittled to such extremes even reading about it is difficult to endure. But read it, anyway. It’s a true-life superhero story. And read it now, before it comes out on the big screen in December.
Melissa: The Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell
O’Donnell alternates among the narration of two school-aged sisters—tough-as-nails Marnie and Nelly, an eccentric preteen who talks like she just swallowed a monocle—and the lonely neighbor who becomes their salvation. At the novel’s start, the girls’ nasty, drug-addicted parents have just died as they lived: as a huge freaking burden on their kids. To avoid going into foster care, the girls bury the bodies in the yard. Things continue to go south as a long-lost grandfather, angry drug dealer, and curious, dig-happy dog come calling.
Rebecca: In The Land of The Living, by Austin Ratner
If ever you’ve doubted that a story about grief can also be hilarious, you should pick me In The Land of The Living. Ratner’s book about the Auberon clan, Isidore and then his son Leo, is equal parts, tragic, comic, and wonderfully strange.
Paul: Wild Wolf, by Jennifer Ashley
The latest installment in Jennifer Ashley’s wildly erotic Shifters Unbound saga, this novel is the perfect example of why this series is the crème de la crème of paranormal romance: extraordinary world-building, emotionally powerful character development, and “I’ll-have-what-they’re-having” supernatural sex scenes that will virtually ignite the pages underneath your fingers!
Dell: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain
It’s no shock that Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was a finalist for the National Book Award. What is surprising, however, is that this brilliant satire is Fountain’s first novel. Billy Lynn and his Bravo Squad, newly minted celebrities and Iraq War heroes, spend an unforgettable Thanksgiving afternoon at a Dallas Cowboys game. Amid drinking, fighting, and moments both harrowing and hilarious, it’s clear from the outset that 18-year old Billy Lynn, like Nick Carraway and Holden Caulfield before him, possesses a quiet intuition; his age and situation-appropriate irreverence is tempered by unexpected insights. Billy Lynn is incredulous at the world around him, but also captivated by it. I, too, was captivated.
Amy: The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, edited by Ben Marcus
I picked up Marcus’s anthology in a secondhand book store on the Filipino island of Bohol two summers ago, and it’s stayed with me (physically, mentally) ever since, most especially for the inspiring, imaginative, and visceral prose by Wells Tower, Dawn Raffel, Rick Bass, and Lydia Davis.
What are you reading this month?