Best New Fiction Examines the Challenges of Complicated Relationships

Fiction 5

March new releases center around complicated relationships between family and friends (or former friends). That’s about all these eclectic reads have in common. You’ll find a tween taking on a convicted killer, sisters searching for their path in life, a 20-year-old mystery based on a true story, newly discovered half-sisters, and a multigenerational road trip of self discovery. Add these to your hold list today!

1. We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

A middle-aged Vincent King is returning to his hometown after 30 years in prison for killing the sister of his high school sweetheart, Star. She still lives in town with her two kids, 13-year-old Duchess and 5-year-old Robin. Star is still beautiful, but she hasn’t been the same since Vincent left.

In this town Vincent will also face his childhood best friend and current chief of police, Walk. He was the one who provided the testimony that sealed Vincent’s fate.

Duchess is a self-proclaimed outlaw who takes care of her brother and mother with Walk’s help. When Vincent returns, Duchess devises a plan to get revenge for the mess he left behind. Her actions lead to a series of events that threaten her family and everyone she’s close to.

“A vibrant, engrossing, unputdownable thriller that packs a serious emotional punch. One of those rare books that surprise you along the way and then linger in your mind long after you have finished it.” —Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Four Winds

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2. Meant to Be by Jude Deveraux

In 1972 two sisters in the small farming community of Mason, Kansas, are trying to determine their path in the life. Vera is an activist who wants to join the Peace Corp with her boyfriend. Instead she’s caring for her widowed mother and younger sister. Kelly is studying to become a veterinarian. After school she plans to marry her childhood sweetheart and take over the vet practice her dad left behind.

Neither Vera nor Kelly are completely happy with their plans and are evaluating their options. Do they do what’s right for themselves or what’s right for the people they care about?

“Jude Deveraux’s writing is enchanting and exquisite.” —BookPage

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3. The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

“In 1972, a boatman arrives at the desolate Maiden Rock lighthouse off the coast of Mortehaven, Cornwall, to pick up one of its three keepers for a scheduled break. Instead, he finds the trio – principal keeper Arthur Black; Black’s junior, Bill Walker; and third-in-command Vincent Bourne –gone. The tower is locked from the inside, the log chronicles strange storms that never happened, and the clocks are stopped at 8:45.

“Twenty years later, a writer determined to crack the unsolved mystery contacts the women the lighthouse keepers left behind. Now living in Bath, Helen Black returns to Mortehaven twice a year to commemorate her husband. She writes regularly to Bill’s wife, Jenny, hoping to be forgiven for Bill’s onetime obsession with her. Jenny discards the letters in anger. Now in a troubled marriage, Vince’s former girlfriend, Michelle Davies, is sure that he played no role in the disappearance, despite his earlier brushes with the law.

“Seamlessly marrying quotidian detail with ghostly touches, the author captures both the lighthouse’s lure and the damage its isolation and confinement wreak on minds and families. The convincing resolution brings a welcome note of healing.”–Publishers Weekly

“Beautiful, absorbing and utterly riveting, The Lamplighters is a hymn to loneliness, to the sea, and to the stories we allow ourselves to believe when we are alone. I treasured every moment of this dazzlingly accomplished and completely unforgettable novel.” –Rosie Walsh, author of Ghosted

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4. A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser

Two strangers are linked by a DNA test. For Sela these results are an answered payer for a sibling. For Caroline these results make her question everything she knows.

Caroline lives a full happy life with a great career, an enviable marriage and children, and a close-knit extended family. She’s about to discover her beliefs about them are all wrong.

Sela suffers from irreversible kidney failure, her marriage ended and her mother recently died. She worries what will happen to her 2-year-old son if she doesn’t find a kidney donor soon. Her newly discovered half-sister, Caroline, may be the miracle she needs.

A Million Reasons Why is the emotionally gripping story of two half-sisters, each with her own secrets, who find each other as adults. It’s deftly paced and surprising, and Strawser’s characters are so layered and flawed and human that I came to care about them deeply. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, this astute exploration of the bonds and limitations of family is a perfect book club pick.” – New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson

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5. Call It Horses by Jessie van Eerden

Set in small-town West Virginia in the late 1980s, Call It Horses tells the story of three women – niece, aunt and stowaway – and an improbable road trip.

Frankie is an orphan (or a reluctant wife). Mave is an autodidact (or the town pariah). Nan is an artist (or the town whore). Wanting to escape from everything they’ve known, Frankie, Mave and Nan set out on a road trip to the desert of Georgia O’Keeffe.

Frankie records the journey in letters to her aunt Mave’s dead lover, a linguist named Ruth. She sketches out her troubled life and her complicated relationship with Mave, who became her guardian when Frankie was orphaned at 16. Slowly, one letter at a time, Frankie exposes the ruins of herself and her fellow passengers: things that chase them, that died too soon, that never lived.

With lush prose and brutal empathy, Frankie tells Ruth the story of a woman standing just outside of motherhood, fulfillment and love.

“A novel of grit and grace. Jessie van Eerden, in language both lean and lush, tells this story of women on the run―women who discover that in leaving they find exactly where they’re meant to be. The final scene is one I’ll remember always.”―Lee Martin, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Bright Forever

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I’m the library’s fiction selector and I’ve been suggesting new books to library and bookmobile customers for over 17 years. I keep up on all the new book reviews, and my favorite question is “What are you reading?” I love to talk about books and to read books. I like to tell library customers, “Try something new. If you don’t like it, at least the price is right!”