Caroline Leavitt

Fans of heartfelt and emotionally rich fiction have been devouring the works of Caroline Leavitt since her impassioned 1982 debut, Meeting Rozzy Halfway. Ever since, Leavitt has delivered slice-of-life tales American families at an impressive pace, constantly upping her game along the way.

She is the New York Times– and USA Today–bestselling author of Pictures of You, selected as one of the Best Books of 2011 lists by the San Francisco Chronicle, The Providence Journal, Bookmarks, and Kirkus Reviews. Leavitt’s tenth novel, Is This Tomorrow, premiered earlier this month: the taut and resonant mystery of a missing child in an elite Boston suburb has already garnered critical acclaim and a devoted readership’s praise. This week, Leavitt recommends three superb domestic dramas matching her own in finessed prose and charming sentiment. She prefaces her picks with a statement of disclosure: “Hello. My name is Caroline and I’m a suburbia/1950s-aholic.”

A Crime in the Neighborhood
By Suzanne Berne

”Ah ha, you might think, I’m choosing this book because, like my novel, it’s also about a crime in suburbia. But no, that’s not why my copy of Berne’s book is so dog-eared from reading. What obsesses me about it is that the crime — the murder of a young boy in a 1972 suburb — really isn’t the central tragedy driving the story. Instead, Berne’s exploring moral crimes, which are much more interesting. The narrator, Marsha, looks back on her childhood and the summer of the murder, when her father abandoned his family to have an affair, and when a strange new male neighbor moved in and got a bit too chummy with her mother. This is a novel that makes you think you’re traveling in one direction and then suddenly shifts the landscape in a way that’s pure genius.”

The Ice Storm
By Rick Moody

“We’re back to the manicured suburbs, this time in an affluent Connecticut enclave in the 1970s. Against a backdrop of the Watergate scandal, way too much polyester, and key parties with wife swapping, the moral fiber here stretches so thin, you can practically see the light through it. Two neighborhood families come apart; kids experiment with drugs, sex, and even suicide; and all the while, a dangerous ice storm threatens. Suburban angst was never so wildly funny or so deeply sad.”

The Wanderers
By Richard Price

“OK, so this novel isn’t about the suburbs, but there’s no book that I know of that captures the ’50s and all those black-leather-jacketed-rebels-without-a-cause so perfectly. Price’s world is the inner city — a gritty Bronx housing project, to be exact — similar to the one Price grew up in. He wrote this book when he was only twenty-four, filling it with confused, yearning, lustful teenagers, growing away from their violent gang life into real, adult life — which turns out to be more discombobulating and scary than a knife fight in the park. Dazzling with energy and profanely funny, these interconnected short stories have dialogue as punchy as the eponymous Dion anthem, and a coda that’s a heartbreaker every time I read it.”