Book of the Month Club Selections: December 2016

Nicola Yoon, Kelly Luce, Megan Abbott and more!

book of the month club december 2016 selections

Book of the Month has been so good to me (a literal godsend for choosing great books to read) ever since I joined in August, so I thought I’d show my appreciation for them by creating a vertical dedicated to the book club’s selections as they’re announced at the beginning of each month.

The club is renowned for its staggering selections, and this month’s picks were no exception. I cannot tell you how difficult it was deciding on JUST ONE BOOK; thankfully, I had a few additional book credits this time (phew!). This month took a surprising turn towards YA territory, and I really, really liked that! Liberty Hardy (one of the judges) gets me all the time; she’s made my top pick every month and this time seems to be the case once again!

These are Book of the Month’s December 2016 Selections

This post is not sponsored by Book of the Month Club.
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Pull Me Under, Kelly Luce

pull-me-under-kelly-luce-book-of-the-month
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Twitter

Kelly Luce’s Pull Me Under tells the story of Rio Silvestri, who, when she was twelve years old, fatally stabbed a school bully. Rio, born Chizuru Akitani, is the Japanese-American daughter of the revered violinist Hiro Akitani–a Living National Treasure in Japan and a man Rio hasn’t spoken to since she left her home country for the United States (and a new identity) after her violent crime. Her father’s death, along with a mysterious package that arrives on her doorstep in Boulder, Colorado, spurs her to return to Japan for the first time in twenty years. There she is forced to confront her past in ways she never imagined, pushing herself, her relationships with her husband and daughter, and her own sense of who she is to the brink.

The novel’s illuminating and palpably atmospheric descriptions of Japan and its culture, as well its elegantly dynamic structure, call to mind both Ruth Ozeki‘s A Tale for the Time Being and David Guterson‘s Snow Falling on Cedars. Pull Me Under is gripping, psychologically complex fiction–at the heart of which is an affecting exploration of home, self-acceptance, and the limits of forgiveness. — Goodreads

Luce delves deep into the problems Rio faced – losing her mother, being abandoned by her father and tormented by the school bully – but never once makes excuses for her violent act. – BOTM Judge Liberty Hardy

Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller

swimming-lessons-claire-fuller-book-of-the-month
Tin House Books/ Claire Fuller

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband Gil about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides each in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years after her disappearance, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Sexy and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious and complicated truths of a passionate and troubled marriage. — Goodreads

Playing out the various scenarios is almost like a choose your own adventure story for mature adults. – BOTM Judge Steph Opitz

The Sun is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon

the-sun-is-also-a-star-nicola-yoon-book-of-the-month
Delacorte Press/ Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true? — Goodreads

The precision of Yoon’s voice might bring you back to a time in your life when you were optimistic enough to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. – BOTM Judge Dana Schwartz

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?, Kathleen Collins

whatever-happened-to-interracial-love-kathleen-collins-book-of-the-month
Ecco/ Kathleen Collins

Humorous, poignant, perceptive, and full of grace, Kathleen Collins’s stories masterfully blend the quotidian and the profound in a personal, intimate way, exploring deep, far-reaching issues—race, gender, family, and sexuality—that shape the ordinary moments in our lives.

In “The Uncle,” a young girl who idolizes her handsome uncle and his beautiful wife makes a haunting discovery about their lives. In “Only Once,” a woman reminisces about her charming daredevil of a lover and his ultimate—and final—act of foolishness. Collins’s work seamlessly integrates the African-American experience in her characters’ lives, creating rich, devastatingly familiar, full-bodied men, women, and children who transcend the symbolic, penetrating both the reader’s head and heart.

Both contemporary and timeless, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? is a major addition to the literary canon, and is sure to earn Kathleen Collins the widespread recognition she is long overdue. — Goodreads

Even though these stories were written decades ago, the issues and frustrations of the characters’ lives mimic where we are right now. – BOTM Judge Abbi Jacobson

You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott

you-will-know-me-megan-abbott-book-of-the-month
Little Brown/ Drew Riley

Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl,” (Janet Maslin) You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition. — Goodreads

Perfectly ties together a fascination with the adolescent psyche, the hysteria of small-town cynicism, and the secrets that young people keep among themselves. – BOTM Judge Kevin Nguyen

From the Editor-in-Chief, Paris Close: For December 2016, I selected Kelly’s Pull Me Under, Kathleen’s Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? and Nicola’s The Sun Is Also a Star. Kelly’s book pull me in and more ways than one; that cover is just beautiful and the story within the book sounds really intriguing, very villainous, too. Kathleen’s collection was one I’d hoped to check out from the library a few months ago but thankfully I was able to get a copy from BOTM with one of my free credits; this was also the case with Nicola’s book, which I keep hearing so many great things about! I’m so excited for January reads, I’m not even kidding!


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Written by Paris Close

Paris Close

Editor-in-chief at Paperback Paris. Saving myself for Andy Cohen. Give me Gillian Flynn, or give me death.