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Fiction 5 Fiction 5 Fiction 5 Fiction 5

Fiction Five: Drama with a side of humor

I'm recommending an interesting variety of enthralling new reads for June. Four of the five focus on family or community drama and the fifth one is full of sci-fi humor. Exploring envy, women's friendships, desire and the intuitions we silence, The Whispers is a chilling read. My Magnolia Summer is a story of the complicated relationships between mothers, daughters and sisters. A high school student exposes a town secret that shocks wealthy residents in Welcome to Beach Town. From 1960s Vietnam to the wild swampland of today's Florida coast, Banyan Moon >is a stunning and deeply moving story of mothers and daughters, the things we inherit, and the lives we choose to make out of that inheritance. Part alien-abduction adventure, part road trip saga, part romantic comedy, The Road to Roswell is packed full of men in black, Elvis impersonators, tourist traps and close encounters.

1. The Whispers by Ashley Audrain

On Harlow Street, the well-to-do neighbor­hood couples and their children gather for a barbecue. Everything is fabulous until Whitney, the perfect hostess, explodes in fury when her son disobeys her. Everyone at the party hears her exquisite veneer crack. Before long, that same young boy falls from his bedside window in the middle of the night. Whitney can only sit by his hospital bed, where his life hangs in the balance.

Over the course of a tense three days, the women of the neighborhood grapple with what led to that terrible night. People-pleasing Blair, Whitney's best friend, suspects something isn't as it seems. Rebecca, the ER doctor who treated Whit­ney's son, has struggled to have a child of her own. And the all-knowing Mara, the older woman next door, watches everyone's world unravel from her front porch.

Exploring envy, women's friendships, desire and the intuitions we silence, The Whispers>is a chilling novel.

"No one understands the secret lives of women like Ashley Audrain. In her electrifying new novel, The Whispers, the unspoken fears, desires, and shame of four neighbours threaten the lives they've so carefully constructed. It's a razor-sharp page-turner. Masterful!"Carley Fortune, New York Times bestselling author of Every Summer After


2. My Magnolia Summer by Victoria Benton Frank

Violet calls her sister Maggie (Magnolia) to come home to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, from New York City when their Gran is in a coma. Maggie's troubled mother, Lily, caused the car accident that put Gran in the hospital. Generations of women have run the family restaurant, The Magic Lantern, which may be in trouble without Gran at the helm. Maggie's also worried about her sister Violet who seems to be heading for a bad breakup.

As Maggie rediscovers her roots she starts to see a new version of herself. Was her mother's car accident with a handsome farmer's truck a fortunate incident?

“No one can ever take the place of Dorothea Benton Frank, but by writing My Magnolia Summer, a novel of low country food, family drama, and just the right amount of romance, Victoria Benton Frank shows that she is the rightful heir to the crown of summertime storytellers. Her mother would be so proud.” —Ann Patchett

“In My Magnolia Summer, author Victoria Benton Frank spins all the plates and brings all the magic of the lowcountry to life. A tale of the complicated relationships between mothers, daughters and let's not forget, sisters—this enchanting novel will bring romance and sunshine to your summer reading list.” —Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author of The Five-Star Weekend


3. Welcome to Beach Town by Susan Wiggs

In idyllic Alara Cove, a California beach town known for its sunny charm and chill surfer vibe, it’s graduation day at the elite Thornton Academy. The students are the worldly and overindulged children who live in gated enclaves with spectacular views. But the class valedictorian is Nikki Graziola, a surfer’s daughter who is there on scholarship. Everyone is shocked when Nikki veers off script during her commencement address to reveal a secret that breaks open the whole community.

Nikki’s accusation shakes the foundation of Alara Cove, pitting her against the wealthy family whose money runs the town. Her new notoriety sends Nikki into exile for years. She finds fame but not fortune overseas as a competition surfer until a personal tragedy compels her to return to Alara Cove.

As Nikki struggles to rebuild her future, she finds she hasn't been forgotten. But time has changed Alara Cove, and old friendships, rivalries and an unexpected romance draw her back into the life of the beach town. Joy and redemption may be possible after all.

“What happens when you dream one thing and something else comes your way? This story is rich with life and danger, and ultimately, hope. Fans of Colleen Hoover will gobble it up." — Barbara O'Neal, author of When We Believed in Mermaids


4. Banyan Moon by Thao Thai

When Ann Tran gets the call that her beloved grandmother, Minh, passed away, her life is already at a crossroads. In the years since she’s last seen Minh, Ann has built a seemingly perfect life — a beautiful lake house, a charming professor boyfriend, and invites to elegant parties — but it all crumbles with one positive pregnancy test. With both her relationship and future in question, Ann returns home to Florida to face her estranged mother, Huơng.

Huơng is simultaneously mourning her mother and resenting her for having a much better relationship with Ann than she did. Then Ann and Huơng learn Minh left them both the Banyan House. It's a crumbling old manor that was Ann’s childhood home. Under the same roof for the first time in years, mother and daughter must face the simmering questions of their past and their uncertain futures without the person who’s always held them together.

Running parallel to this is Minh’s story. She goes from a love-struck teenager living in the shadow of the Vietnam War to a determined young mother immigrating to America in search of a better life for her children. When Ann makes a shocking discovery in the Banyan House’s attic long-buried secrets come to light. It becomes clear how decisions Minh made in her youth affected the rest of her life and beyond.

Spanning decades and continents, from 1960s Vietnam to the wild swamplands of the Florida coast, Banyan Moon is a stunning and deeply moving story of mothers and daughters, the things we inherit, and the lives we choose to make out of that inheritance

"Heart-shatteringly beautiful. Banyan Moon is a love letter to keepers of secrets, to motherhood, family and survival. Thao Thai is a major talent whose exciting, impressive, and poetic prose will grow into you, like a strong and lush banyan tree deeply rooted in the rich Vietnamese literary heritage." — Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, internationally bestselling author of The Mountains Sing and Dust Child


5. The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis

When level-headed Francie arrives in Roswell, New Mexico, for her college roommate’s UFO-themed wedding she can’t help but roll her eyes at all the wide-eyed talk of aliens, which obviously don’t exist. Imagine her surprise when she is abducted by one.

Odder still, her abductor is far from what the popular media have led her to expect, with a body like a tumbleweed and a mass of lightning-fast tentacles. Nor is Francie the only victim of the alien’s abduction spree. Before long, he has acquired a charming con man named Wade, a sweet little old lady with a casino addiction, a retiree with a huge RV and a love for old Westerns, and a UFO-chasing nutjob who is thoroughly convinced the alien intends to probe them and/or take over the planet.

The more Francie gets to know the alien, the more convinced she becomes that he’s not an invader. He’s in trouble and she has to help him. Only she doesn’t know how or even what the trouble is.

Part alien-abduction adventure, part road trip saga, part romantic comedy, The Road to Roswell is packed full of Men in Black, Elvis impersonators, tourist traps, rattlesnakes, chemtrails, and Close Encounters of the Third, Fourth and Fifth kind. Can Francie, stuck in a neon green bridesmaid’s dress, save the world—and still make it back for the wedding?

“An absolute blast with abundant humor, copious references to old westerns, and . . . a delightful, intergalactic twist on the romantic comedy.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)


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