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The Best New Books to Read in 2021 (So Far)

The Best New Books to Read in 2021 (So Far)

By Realsimple

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About the list

This book list was crafted for you by Friendspire on 23 February 2021 based on a list by Realsimple.

Reading is one of those hobbies that tends to stay with you for life. Sure, we might start reading children's books like Clifford The Big Red Dog, but as we get older, so too do the novels we read. It starts with a easy book, then it progresses to young adult novels, biographies, and classics. Reading takes us out of our daily
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The Fourth Child

2021 | Jessica Winter

"A beautifully observed and thrillingly honest novel about the dark corners of family life and the long, complicated search for understanding and grace." --Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation and Weather "The Fourth Child is keen and beautiful and heartbreaking--an exploration of private guilt and unexpected obligation, of the intimate losses of power embedded in female adolescence, and of the fraught moments of glancing divinity that come with shouldering the burden of love." --Jia Tolentino, New York Times bestselling author of Trick Mirror "A remarkable family saga . . . The Fourth Child is a balm--a reminder that it is possible for art to provide a nuanced exploration of life itself." --Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind and Rich and Pretty The author of Break in Case of Emergency follows up her "extraordinary debut" (The Guardian) with a moving novel about motherhood and marriage, adolescence and bodily autonomy, family and love, religion and sexuality, and the delicate balance between the purity of faith and the messy reality of life. Book-smart, devoutly Catholic, and painfully unsure of herself, Jane becomes pregnant in high school; by her early twenties, she is raising three children in the suburbs of western New York State. In the fall of 1991, as her children are growing older and more independent, Jane is overcome by a spiritual and intellectual restlessness that leads her to become involved with a local pro-life group. Following the tenets of her beliefs, she also adopts a little girl from Eastern Europe. But Mirela is a difficult child. Deprived of a loving caregiver in infancy, she remains unattached to her new parents, no matter how much love Jane shows her. As Jane becomes consumed with chasing therapies that might help Mirela, her relationships with her family, especially her older daughter, Lauren, begin to fray. Feeling estranged from her mother and unsettled in her new high school, Lauren begins to discover the power of her own burgeoning creativity and sexuality--a journey that both echoes and departs from her mother's own adolescent experiences. But when Lauren is confronted with the limits of her youth and independence, Jane is thrown into an emotional crisis, forced to reconcile her principles and faith with her determination to keep her daughters safe. The Fourth Child is a piercing love story and a haunting portrayal of how love can shatter--or strengthen--our beliefs.

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The Kindest Lie

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2021 | Nancy Johnson

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Named a Most Anticipated book by O Magazine * GMA * Elle * Marie Claire * Good Housekeeping * NBC News * Shondaland * Chicago Tribune * Woman's Day * Refinery 29 * Bustle * The Millions * New York Post * Parade * Hello! Magazine * PopSugar * and more! “The Kindest Lie is a deep dive into how we define family, what it means to be a mother, and what it means to grow up Black...beautifully crafted.” —JODI PICOULT "A fantastic story...well-written, timely, and oh-so-memorable."—Good Morning America “The Kindest Lie is a layered, complex exploration of race and class." —The Washington Post A promise could betray you. It’s 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past. Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. As she begins digging into the past, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. Just as Ruth is about to uncover a burning secret her family desperately wants to keep hidden, a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, sending Ruth and Midnight on a collision course that could upend both their lives. Powerful and revealing, The Kindest Lie captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.

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City of a Thousand Gates

2021 | Rebecca Sacks

"The novel showcases the humanity, tragedy, and complexity of life in the West Bank... The characters' interwoven lives will stay with you long after the book's denouement." --Entertainment Weekly "Sacks is an extraordinarily gifted writer whose intelligence, compassion and skill on both the sentence and tension level rise to meet her ambition. She keeps us constantly on edge...City of a Thousand Gates makes a convincing case for a literature of multiplicity, polyphonic and clamorous, abuzz with challenges and contradictions, with no clear answers but a promise to stay alert to the world, in all its peril and vitality." --Washington Post Brave and bold, this gorgeously written novel introduces a large cast of characters from various backgrounds in a setting where violence is routine and where survival is defined by boundaries, walls, and checkpoints that force people to live and love within and across them. Hamid, a college student, has entered Israeli territory illegally for work. Rushing past soldiers, he bumps into Vera, a German journalist headed to Jerusalem to cover the story of Salem, a Palestinian boy beaten into a coma by a group of revenge-seeking Israeli teenagers. On her way to the hospital, Vera runs in front of a car that barely avoids hitting her. The driver is Ido, a new father traveling with his American wife and their baby. Ido is distracted by thoughts of a young Jewish girl murdered by a terrorist who infiltrated her settlement. Ori, a nineteen-year-old soldier from a nearby settlement, is guarding the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem through which Samar--Hamid's professor--must pass. These multiple strands open this magnificent and haunting novel of present-day Israel and Palestine, following each of these diverse characters as they try to protect what they love. Their interwoven stories reveal complicated, painful truths about life in this conflicted land steeped in hope, love, hatred, terror, and blood on both sides. City of a Thousand Gates brilliantly evokes the universal drives that motivate these individuals to think and act as they do--desires for security, for freedom, for dignity, for the future of one's children, for land that each of us, no matter who or where we are, recognize and share.

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