From The Beacon: Find first efforts from freshmen authors
"A good book is the purest essence of a human soul." Thomas Carlyle
Nothing is quite as satisfying as finding a new book by a debut author to brilliantly tickle your literary taste buds. Several must-read, first-time novels hit the market this year. Take notice of these new and notable books and authors:
Fans of Southern fiction will want to place "Stiltsville" on their "must-read" list for fall. In "Stiltsville," debut novelist Susanna Daniel takes a cue from her own childhood living in a stilt home on Biscayne Bay, Fla. Readers are introduced to main character Frances Ellerby at the opening of the story, as the then-26-year-old stumbles upon Stiltsville, a South Florida community of stilt houses. Over the course of the book, we experience life's ups and downs as Frances and her husband, Dennis, work to build and balance marriage and family. This book has it all: Southern lifestyle, a lasting love story and how to pick up the pieces when life doesn't turn out like you expected.
Readers that enjoy reading historical events from a different point of view will find a winner in "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree" by Ann Weisgarber. In this pioneer novel, a black family struggles to hold itself together in the South Dakota Badlands. Rachel Dupree and her husband, Isaac, make the move from Chicago to the South Dakota farm they purchased with funds from the Homestead Act only to face drought, racism and suspicion. Open this novel to hear a new layer of voices from the American West.
Avid historical fiction readers need to look no further than "The Blind Contessa's New Machine" by Carey Wallace for their next book selection. This debut novel, set in 19th century Italy, centers on the invention of the typewriter. Young contessa Carolina Fantoni is on the cusp of marrying the town's most eligible bachelor when she discovers her eyesight is fading. No one believes she is going blind except her longtime friend Turri, a local inventor. In order to keep their relationship alive despite Carolina's blindness, Turri constructs an innovative writing contraption -- a typewriter -- so the two can continue their affair. At 224 pages, this is a quick but enjoyable new novel.
Fans of chick lit queens Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin and Jane Green will find a new voice in Maggie Pouncey's "The Perfect Reader." In her first published novel, Pouncey brings to life the unforgettable Flora Dempsey, the only child of college professor/literature critic Lewis Dempsey. When her father unexpectedly dies, Flora resigns her position as a magazine editor in the big city to handle her father's final affairs in the small New England town she once called home. Secrets are unearthed as Flora discovers a collection of love poems her father had been writing to a mystery lover. As the tale unravels, Flora faces her father's secrets, the mysterious mistress and how to handle his legacy and her future.
If book club favorites "Shanghai Girls" or "The Joy Luck Club" are your literary choice of fare, "Girl in Translation" by Jean Kwok, should be your club's next choice. Another coming-to-America story, "Girl in Translation" begins with Ah-Kim Chang and her newly widowed mother moving to Brooklyn, N.Y. Kim, as she is now known in the neighborhood, and her mother struggle to make ends meet through hard work at a clothing factory. Although they can barely afford their rent, Kim excels in school and earns entrance to an elite private school where she flourishes. Although immigration is the thread that starts this story, the heartwarming mother-daughter relationship weaves this into a beautiful tale.
No list would be complete without a stellar nonfiction title. David Cullen's "Columbine" is the culmination of 10 years spent researching the Columbine High School shootings. With a journalistic approach, Cullen provides in depth analysis of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the two teenagers behind the shootings. Relying on stacks of interviews, police files, FBI reports and materials from Dylan and Eric's personal belongings, David Cullen's "Columbine" is the definitive source on the Columbine tragedy.