We’ve Got Trouble

The atomic bomb, grief, heartbreak, Spanish Flu, prison and family secrets are just some of the troubles facing the main characters in February’s new releases. These tales include suspense, mystery, family drama, love and resilience. Find a comfy reading nook and get lost in someone else’s problems.

1. Back Talk: Stories by Danielle Lazarin

“Lazarin’s first collection of short stories focuses on the ordinary lives of women and girls in a brilliant and tender way. Claudia, grieving her mother’s death, experiences her first love and struggles to find happiness through the heartbreak. Caitlin is the youngest of three children who lingers in the space left between her mother and older siblings and her father and his “second chance family,” finding she fits in neither, no matter how much she longs to. Sisters Hannah and V fool the neighborhood kids into thinking that they are psychics, but the attention triggers V’s desire to learn more about the world, on her own, while their family slowly separates in pursuit of their individual passions. Margaret, a wife and the mother of three boys, sacrifices the bustle of the city for the safety of the suburbs but realizes there is a limit to the amount of control she can have on her life and the lives of others. With poignant imagery and a fresh voice, Lazarin portrays these women honestly and relatably. Her exceptional craftsmanship speaks to the heart, as she paints these tales with empathy and a compassion that extends to all humankind.”—Booklist Reviews, starred review

“Thank God, a collection of stories about women who don’t hate themselves, don’t hate other women, don’t hate their bodies, don’t hate their husbands, or even their ex-husbands. women who are simply, like me, trying to figure out what it means to be alive, to be in love, to be daughters, parents, siblings, wives, citizens, human beings.”—Eileen Pollack  author of Only Woman in the Room

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2. The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard 

“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”

In November 1944, 18 year-old June Walker arrives in a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias and constant security checks. June is one of hundreds of young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They are helping to win the war, but they can’t ask questions or reveal anything about their work.

June wants to understand their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with the young physicist who oversees the lab where she works. Her roommate is working to find a wealthy husband and escape her roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind. A breach in security will join his fate with June’s search for answers. After the bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism and the war.

“Suspenseful and intriguing…explores an aspect of the Manhattan Project long shrouded in secrecy, bringing to light an important chapter of World War II history.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker  

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3. As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, Philadelphia held opportunities for a fresh start. Just months after Pauline Bright arrived withe her husband and three daughters, the Spanish Flu arrived. The pandemic claimed more than 12 thousand victims and changed the world. As they lose loved ones, the Brights take in a baby orphaned by the flu who becomes a source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without,  what they are willing to do about it and how to survive.

“With stunning prose and keen detail, Meissner has deftly created a heady mix of love, politics and survival – a family saga, coming of age tale and riveting historical fiction all in one.” —Pam Jenoff, author of The Orphan’s Tale

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4. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

The author of Silver Sparrow returns with a stunning novel about race, loyalty and love that endures.

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy exemplify the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an up-and-coming artist. As they begin their life together, they are torn apart by unforeseen circumstances. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to their love. After five years, Roy’s conviction is overturned and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

“Reading it, I found myself angry as hell, laughing out loud, choking up and cheering. A gem of a book.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming

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5. The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookseller comes a suspense novel about a deeply troubled family and three women who will reveal its dark truths.

In the autumn of 1960, Angie Glass is living an idyllic life in her Wisconsin hometown. At twenty-one, she’s married to charming, handsome Paul and they have a baby boy. One phone call changes her life forever.

Paul’s niece, Ruby, informs them her father, Henry, committed suicide, and her mother, Silja, is missing, Angie and Paul rush to Ruby’s side. Angie thinks they’re coming to the rescue of Paul’s grief-stricken young niece, but Ruby is a composed 17 year-old who resists Angie’s nurturing. As Angie learns more about the complicated Glass family she begins to question the very fabric of her marriage. Through Silja’s flashbacks, Angie’s discovery of astonishing truths, and Ruby’s dissection of her parents’ affairs, a story of love, secrets and betrayal is revealed.

“The Glass Forest is the story of three strong women in the 1960s, one of whom has disappeared. Part family saga, part mystery, part coming of age, this richly detailed historical novel is both a fascinating portrait of a woman’s life during this time and a meticulously plotted thriller. I absolutely devoured this gripping and beautifully written novel.”—Jillian Cantor, author of Margot and The Lost Letter

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Jennifer Jones

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!”