Reading has been really rough for me these past few months. I’ve been trying out The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware and I’m really struggling to tolerate Lo as a narrator. Paula Hawkins‘ Into the Water drowned me in redundant, splashy text so I tossed that one off to the side. And I’ve yet to turn the pages of Fiona Barton’s second novel, The Child, though I’ve been really enjoying Julie Buntin‘s Marlena so far.
Even with that, I am still excited for this month’s BOTM picks! So let’s get into them!
These are Book of the Month’s June 2017 Selections
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Chemistry, Weike Wang
Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research—and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there’s another, non-scientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own. Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind.
And for the first time, she’s confronted with a question she won’t find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want? Over the next two years, this winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas and equations for a different kind of chemistry—one in which the reactions can’t be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart. Taking us deep inside her scattered, searching mind, here is a brilliant new literary voice that astutely juxtaposes the elegance of science, the anxieties of finding a place in the world, and the sacrifices made for love and family.
“Seeing the world through the lens of chemistry is novel, if only as a reminder that the messiness of life follows no particular formula.”— Judge, Leigh Haber
White Fur, Jardine Libaire
When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.
The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives.
“Their love burns with the fire of a thousand suns, the way all first great loves do, and everything that transpires between them stokes that fire deeper.” — Judge, Laia Garcia
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
“Forget your magazines and Twitter updates, this is the breathtaking celeb gossip beach read you’ve been looking for.” — Judge, Steph Opitz
The Sisters Chase, Sarah Healy
The hardscrabble Chase women—Mary, Hannah, and their mother Diane—have been eking out a living running a tiny seaside motel that has been in the family for generations, inviting trouble into their lives for just as long. Eighteen-year-old Mary Chase is a force of nature: passionate, beautiful, and free-spirited. Her much younger sister, Hannah, whom Mary affectionately calls “Bunny,” is imaginative, her head full of the stories of princesses and adventures that Mary tells to give her a safe emotional place in the middle of their troubled world.
But when Diane dies in a car accident, Mary discovers the motel is worth less than the back taxes they owe. With few options, Mary’s finely tuned instincts for survival kick in. As the sisters begin a cross-country journey in search of a better life, she will stop at nothing to protect Hannah. But Mary wants to protect herself, too, for the secrets she promised she would never tell—but now may be forced to reveal—hold the weight of unbearable loss. Vivid and suspenseful, The Sisters Chase is a whirlwind page-turner about the extreme lengths one family will go to find—and hold onto—love.
“Mary is clearly emotional and impulsive – or is there a method to her madness, a reason for her choices?” — Judge, Liberty Hardy
A Million Junes, Emily Henry
In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.
Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.
But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.
Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.
“Part Shakespearean retelling and part Alice Hoffman-style literary fantasy, the novel teems with luminous, evocative language and characters so alive I half-expected them to climb off the page and walk around my house.” — Judge, Katie Cotugno
From Editor-in-chief, Paris Close: Definitely, DEFINITELY been waiting for Libaire’s White Fur. It sounds so sexy, and it reads just the same. I’m only a couple of pages in but I can already tell I am going to enjoy it. Not to mention, her writing is just so luscious to me. I won’t spoil anything (yet), but I am excited to see where her book goes.
As for the others, as interested as I am in Liberty Hardy, her choices have not really been hitting for me. Which is strange considering she was one of the judges whose picks really got me interested in joining in the first place. That’s not to say I don’t think The Sisters Chase isn’t a good read, just not one for me. In the same vein, Chemistry, too, has a lot of appeal to me. I actually spotlighted Wang’s book in our Paperback Preview last month, but I’m not quite sure I want to use my credits for more than one this time around. White Fur it is then!
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