1. The Girls by Emma Cline
Why it made the list: This title is sure to be one of the most talked about books this year. Teenagers, a cult, and California.
Synopsis: Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader.
Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.
2. Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Why it made the list: Who can resist this beautiful cover? From recent best-selling author of The Vacationers, college friends turned adult neighbors with their own kids and the drama that ensues over a summer.
Synopsis: Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.
Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.
3. I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh
Why it made the list: A modern-day murder mystery and a grieving mother.
Synopsis: I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.
At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.
4. Full Share by Eliza Freed
Why it made the list: The quintessential summer read and bargain priced! Set in the summer with richly developed characters, read my review here.
Synopsis: Nora Hargrove’s post-grad life includes a horrific entry-level job, a cave of an apartment, and a strict avoidance of all interpersonal relationships. She knows only one thing about herself–she wants to be left alone.
Avoiding her mother’s forced family time, she seeks solitude on her own terms. In a poorly ventilated, overcrowded Dewey Beach rental, she discovers there’s no place to hide. Not from yourself, not from your life, and not from love. This is the story of Nora Hargrove’s full share.
5. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Why it made the list: Written by the Emmy-winning creator of the tv show Fargo, this plane crash thriller is bound to leave you captivated…
Synopsis: On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. Continue Reading