My new fiction picks for October are powerful and consuming. You will be emotionally invested in these characters. Mad Honey centers on a teen’s murder trial and is a powerful exploration of the secrets people keep and the risks they take to become themselves. For Elin Hildebrand fans Endless Summer is a collection of short stories expanding on the lives of her familiar characters. The Night Ship is an epic historical novel about a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, 300 years later, a boy finding a home on the very same island. In Demon Copperhead an Appalachian boy braves foster care, child labor, bad schools, athletic success, opioid addiction, disastrous loves and crushing losses. Signal Fires explores family secrets and how a teenager’s lie impacts many lives. Read on to explore my top five new books.
1. Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan
A soul-stirring novel about what we choose to keep from our past and what we choose to leave behind, from the New York Times bestselling author of Wish You Were Here and the bestselling author of She’s Not There.
Olivia’s perfect life with her brilliant surgeon husband and son Asher changed dramatically when she saw her husband’s darker side. Olivia and Asher started over by moving back to her New Hampshire home town where she took over her dad’s beekeeping business.
Lily and her mom recently moved to the same small town for their fresh start. Asher falls for Lily and these new starts seem to be going well. Then the police call Olivia and tell her Lily is dead and they are questioning Asher. She is sure he’s innocent. However, she has seen flashes of his father’s temper in Asher. As the case unfolds Olivia realizes how much he’s hidden.
“A proactive exploration of the strength that love and acceptance require.” – The Washington Post
2. Endless Summer by Elin Hilderbrand
Nine stories set in the universe of the best-selling author’s previous romance novels includes a visit with friends of Mallory Blessing three years after her death and Margot Carmichael encouraging her husband to reunite with his ex.
“One wonders what the author of 28 novels, sometimes appearing at the rate of two per year, does in her spare time. It turns out she writes what might almost be called Elin Hilderbrand fan fiction, creating short stories piggybacking off already-developed characters and plots….[Endless Summer is] a generous gift to fans.”―Kirkus Reviews
“Summer on Hilderbrand’s Nantucket is never dull. This time she focuses on former lovers who now lead separate lives but share an island idyll once a year. Captivating and bittersweet.”―People
3. The Night Ship by Jess Kidd
Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, 300 years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.
1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.
1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. On the tiny reef-shrouded island he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck.
“Kidd’s latest weaves a spell around the reader, transporting them across centuries, between a doomed ship and a dying island. The result is a true work of magic, and one that will haunt me for years.” —V.E. Schwab, international bestselling author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
4. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
In the mountains of southern Appalachia a boy born to a teenage mother braves foster care, child labor, bad schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves and crushing losses. He gets by on his good looks, wit and fierce talent for survival.
“Absorbing…. Readers see the yearning for love and wells of compassion hidden beneath Demon’s self-protective exterior …. Emotionally engaging is Demon’s fierce attachment to his home ground, a place where he is known and supported, tested to the breaking point as the opiate epidemic engulfs it …. An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.” — Kirkus Review (starred review)
“Kingsolver’s capacious, ingenious, wrenching, and funny survivor’s tale is a virtuoso present-day variation on Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield…. Kingsolver’s tour de force is a serpentine, hard-striking tale of profound dimension and resonance.” — Booklist (starred review)
5. Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro
In summer 1985 three teenagers were involved in a fatal car accident that changed everything in their neighborhood. Ben Wilf was a young doctor and the first on the accident scene. The circumstances of that accident become a deep and haunting secret.
The Shenkmans moved into the neighborhood long after the accident and don’t know anything about it. Waldo Shenkman is a lonely boy who befriends the retired Dr. Wilf. Unexpectedly, the secrets of summer 1985 start to surface and test family relationships.
“Signal Fires is a haunting, moving, and propulsive exploration of family secrets.” —Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion
“A beautiful exploration of the connections between two families and the reverberations from a teenager’s lie . . . Shapiro imagines in luminous prose how each of the characters’ lives might have gone if things had turned out differently.” —Publishers Weekly