Originally published in: 2016
What it’s about: A year after his wife’s death a man finds his wife’s charm bracelet while cleaning out her things. A bracelet she never wore. It leads him on a wonderful adventure.
What made me pick it up: I heard it was similar in premise to another book I enjoyed, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (turns out I liked it better), so I placed it on hold.
My favorite things: I really liked Arthur as a character. He was open and decent and viscerally sad. The thing I liked most, though, was his ability to process and accept that what his wife did that he may have never known about just made her who she was. It didn’t make her bad. It didn’t ruin their many years together. It just made her her. The woman he loved. It was romantic and heartfelt in such a sincere, simple way.
Who it’s great for: Adults who loved Harold Fry. Those who want a novel about a journey.
What it’s about: A memoir by Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace that explores her experiences with gender dysphoria and transition while tracing her life has a musician.
What made me pick it up: Oh man, I pre-ordered this the moment I heard it was going to be published. Grace has been a longtime hero of mine, her music was the backing track to my later teen years, and so I was thrilled to see she’d be penning something longer than a few verses.
My favorite things: The inclusion of journal entries within the narrative is well done and offers a more intimate understanding of Grace’s experiences, making it all more real and easier for the reader to empathize. I also appreciated them because I got a little bit of thrill each time I spotted a line in one of her entries that became a lyric or song title. The way she considers difficult questions that follow her coming out is eye-opening. How does her identity impact her wife’s understanding of her own sexuality? Will she still be Daddy to her young daughter? Grace is brutally honest about herself and her band and it is in turns infuriating and heartbreaking. She has no trouble opening up about all of her experiences and emotions, from depression and self-loathing to anger and entitlement.
Who it’s great for: Memoir readers seeking drama and dirt. Fans of Against Me! who don’t mind reading harsh words about the rest of the band. Anyone looking for a painfully honest story of transition and redemption.
What it’s about: In 2020, a transgender teen, her mom, and their grieving neighbor Dylan plod through a frozen apocalypse together.
What made me pick it up: I read Fagan’s first book The Panopticon which was equally bleak but also hopeful. I enjoy the way she writes characters and her use of language. The Scottish brogue mixed in is also very entertaining and instructive if you’re like me and Google each unknown word. When I saw the press for this I placed a hold.
My favorite things: Fagan makes Stella’s journey as a trans teen extremely relatable and realistic. You feel the depth of all the characters’ confusing emotions, which is one of my favorite aspects of her writing. You also feel the bleakness of their deepening winter, in a way that’s almost too real.
Who it’s great for: Adults who can handle a large dose of heaviness sprinkled throughout with bits of light. Those who like ambiguity. Anyone who wants to feel like it’s deep January somewhere north of Florida.
What it’s about: A young girl fears nothing and relies on no one, at least until she is confronted with the reality that jumbies exist. She learns that it’s okay to be scared and important to trust in your friends.
What made me pick it up: I was looking for a creepy middle grade read and came across The Jumbies. I was only planning to read the first few pages to get a feel for it, but I got sucked in.
My favorite things: I don’t know too much about Caribbean folklore, so I enjoyed getting to learn a little through the context of the story rather than having everything spelled out. I love the variety of characters and relationships that develop throughout the story. Baptiste does a great job of illustrating the idea that just because you are scared of someone or something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are dangerous or want to hurt you-sometimes they’re just different than you.
Who it’s great for: Tweens looking for stories of friendship. Fans of creepy. Those looking for a strong female lead.
Originally published in: 2015
What it’s about: A selfish rabbit learns he can grow so much more if he shares.
What made me pick it up: I was alone in the book drop photographing some returns for a #bookdroplife Instagram post when I saw this and spent a couple extra minutes in there reading it.
My favorite things: The illustrations are beautiful. If you want an eye-catching picture book with a great message, this is for you.
Who it’s great for: Littles who like animals and are just learning to read. Parents who want a brief book with a message. Anyone who appreciates great illustrations because these are wonderful.
What it’s about: A collection of true stories about love written as prose, comics, and illustrated stories.
What made me pick it up: There are a lot of great authors and artists involved in this project and I was interested to see how they would handle writing about themselves and their love lives.
My favorite things: I love the variety of style and content and wide range of experiences that are included. The stories cover everything from unrequited crushes and first loves to heartbreak and moving forward. A lot of incredible artists worked on this anthology and brought some of the stories to life really well. Each piece is short enough you can easily dip in and out if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to it.
Who it’s great for: Geeks, nerds, and dorks of any variety. Members of any fandom. People who like graphic novels. Anyone in the mood for true stories about love and heartache.