We can’t believe 2017 is already here! And while some of us were stumped by last year’s Goodreads Reading Challenge, that doesn’t mean we aren’t hopeful for all the exciting prospects 2017 has to offer. And by prospects, we mean all the cool new books slated to release this year.
1. Difficult Women, Roxane Gay
Synopsis: The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the elder sister’s marriage. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July. — Goodreads
Publication Date: January 3
2. History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund
Synopsis: Linda has an idiosyncratic home life: her parents live in abandoned commune cabins in northern Minnesota and are hanging on to the last vestiges of a faded counter-culture world. The kids at school call her ‘Freak’, or ‘Commie’. She is an outsider in all things. Her understanding of the world comes from her observations at school, where her teacher is accused of possessing child pornography, and from watching the seemingly ordinary life of a family she babysits for. Yet while the accusation against the teacher is perhaps more innocent than it seemed at first, the ordinary family turns out to be more complicated. As Linda insinuates her way into the family’s orbit, she realises they are hiding something. If she tells the truth, she will lose the normal family life she is beginning to enjoy with them; but if she doesn’t, their son may die.
Superbly-paced and beautifully written, History of Wolves is an extraordinary debut novel about guilt, innocence, negligence, well-meaning belief and the death of a child. — Goodreads
Thoughts: Everything about this synopsis is intriguing and strange and vague; but I think that is the appeal of Fridlund’s debut. I’m especially excited to learn more about the suspicious acts of Linda’s teacher, as well as those of her eerie parents. For whatever reason, this book is giving me real Foxcatcher sort of creepy vibes… I’m in! — Paris Close
Publication date: January 3
3. Her Every Fear, Peter Swanson
Synopsis: Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.
Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.
When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves–until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met? — Goodreads
Publication date: January 10
4. Carve the Mark, Veronica Roth
Synopsis: On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?
Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.
Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another. — Goodreads
Thoughts: I got full-on nerdy about the Divergent series when I read it over the course of a few days during my sophomore year of college. YA dystopian literature never affected me to the extent that those books did. I don’t know if there was something about Roth’s writing or the timing of when I read them, but they stuck with me. When I heard that Carve the Mark was available for pre-order, I got on it pronto. Roth’s world-building capabilities could only have grown after writing Divergent, so I’m beyond excited for a new series. — Leah Rodriguez
Publication date: January 17
5. Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough
Synopsis: Why is everyone talking about the ending of Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes?
Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.
When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.
And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?
As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets. — Goodreads
Thoughts: FINALLY A BOOK THAT ISN’T TOUTED AS THE NEXT GONE GIRL! However, after reading the summary, I could definitely sense the vestiges of Gone Girl in Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes; it could very well be the book that trumps Gillian Flynn from all the rave reviews I’ve been reading, too. Pinborough has her work cut out for her, but the dark love triangle between Louise, Adele and David could most certainly take Flynn to task. — Paris
Publication date: January 31
6. We Are Okay, Nina LaCour
Synopsis: You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.”
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. — Goodreads
Publication date: February 14
7. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star. — Goodreads
Thoughts: When I read the description for this novel a few weeks ago, I think I sighed and said, “Finally.” Thinking back on my teenage years, I always remember how influential YA novels were to me at that time. It was only a matter of time before the epidemic of police shootings made its way into literature in the form of fiction, but I’m so glad that it’s coming in the form of a YA novel. I hope all young people read it. I hope they come to understand things a little bit better because the world desperately needs them to. — Leah
Publication date: February 28
8. The Wanderers, Meg Howrey
Synopsis: In four years Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they’re the crew for the job by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation every created.
Retired from NASA, Helen had not trained for irrelevance. It is nobody’s fault that the best of her exists in space, but her daughter can’t help placing blame. The MarsNOW mission is Helen’s last chance to return to the only place she’s ever truly felt at home. For Yoshi, it’s an opportunity to prove himself worthy of the wife he has loved absolutely, if not quite rightly. Sergei is willing to spend seventeen months in a tin can if it means travelling to Mars. He will at least be tested past the point of exhaustion, and this is the example he will set for his sons.
As the days turn into months the line between what is real and unreal becomes blurred, and the astronauts learn that the complications of inner space are no less fraught than those of outer space. The Wanderers gets at the desire behind all exploration: the longing for discovery and the great search to understand the human heart. — Goodreads
Publication Date: March 14
9. Into the Water, Paula Hawkins
Synopsis: With the same propulsion that captivated millions of readers around the world in her novel The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins unfurls a gripping, twisting, layered plot, interwoven with a powerful understanding of human instincts and the damage they can inflict. — Goodreads
Thoughts: After reading The Girl on the Train last year, honestly the closest thing I’ve read to Gone Girl (my favorite book!), I’m pretty much sold on anything Hawkins writes at this point. Into the Water seems like it’s going to be another book flooded with unlikable characters, which has also become my thing. [check, check!] — Paris
Publication date: May 2
10. See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt
Synopsis: When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.
Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.
This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America. — Goodreads
Publication date: May 2
11. Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Jenny Han
Synopsis: Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.
But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind. — Goodreads
When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?
Thoughts: This third installment of what was originally written as a two-part series came as an exciting surprise to Han’s fans, myself included. Upon reading the second and what I thought to be last book of this series, I was (naturally) sad to see the story end. Now that I know there’s still more of this one to share, I absolutely cannot wait to read it! — Leith Tigges
Publication date: May 2
12. Standard Deviation, Katherine Heiny
Synopsis: Graham Cavanaugh’s second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She considers herself privileged to live in the age of the hair towel, talks non-stop through her epidural, labour and delivery, invites the doorman to move in and the eccentric members of their son’s Origami Club to Thanksgiving. She is charming and spontaneous and fun but life with her can be exhausting.
In the midst of the day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger’s, his first wife, Elspeth, reenters Graham’s life. Former spouses are hard to categorize – are they friends, enemies, old flames, or just people who know you really, really well? Graham starts to wonder: How can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice? — Goodreads
Thoughts: Last year, I fell immediately in love with Heiny’s Single, Carefree, Mellow, and so it was without a doubt that I’d be tuning in for the author’s next endeavor. Heiny, whose been twice-praised by the affable Lena Dunham — returns with a story that analyses the relationship dynamics of men and women in Standard Deviation. Having hailed her work in the past, I’m sure Heiny will pull no punches with her sense of humor, observation and untouchable witsdom. (That is a word now.) — Paris
Publication Date: May 23
13. Once and for All, Sarah Dessen
Synopsis: Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.
Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself. — Goodreads
Thoughts: As a teenager I devoured all of Sarah Dessen’s books, and I have a feeling that her latest release will be no different. Although each book has its own unique storyline, I’m excited to step back into the familiar world of Dessen, filled with young love, dynamic characters, and happy endings. — Leith
Publication date: June 6
14. The Child, Fiona Barton
Synopsis: As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?
As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.
But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell… — Goodreads
Thoughts: Barton made her brave debut with The Widow last winter, and since then I’ve only come to expect more great, scary things from her. It’s nice we get to revisit Kate Waters, the same journalist from The Widow, but I’m really, really hoping her skills have sharpened since my grudge with her in the last book. Nonetheless, I’m thrilled for more Barton this year! — Paris
Publication date: June 29
15. Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
Synopsis: Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.
Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature. — Goodreads
Thoughts: Coming off of Yaa Gyasi‘s Homegoing last summer, I was really looking forward to diving into more historical fiction this year. Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing experiments with race relations and that is something I’ve only explored briefly in Homegoing, so to read an entire book encapsulated by interracial tension is really different from what I’m accustomed to. It also doesn’t hurt that Ward won the National Book Award for Fiction for her 2011 novel Salvage the Bones, so I’m even more excited to read more of her work in the future. — Paris
Publication date: September 5