Hello everyone and welcome back to another What’s In The Box post, where I make predictions for next month’s Book of the Month picks.
I am super excited for this post and not just because June has tons of great releases to pick from. I’m jazzed because at the end of the month I will be sharing my second annual “Book of the Month Summer Reading Guide.” You can find my 2020 list here. I have been working on it for the last six weeks and it’s going to be great. I will even include a downloadable PDF so that you can save it to your computer or wherever. So stay tuned for that and I hope you enjoy my June 2021 predictions!
Keep in mind that these are simply guesses and I could get most or all of them wrong. Be that as it may, I hope my guesses get you excited for January and bring some under the radar titles to your attention.
The One Hundred Years of Leni and Margot by Marianne CroninThe One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
Published by Harper on June 1, 2021
A charming, fiercely alive and disarmingly funny debut novel in the vein of John Green, Rachel Joyce, and Jojo Moyes—a brave testament to the power of living each day to the fullest, a tribute to the stories that we live, and a reminder of our unlimited capacity for friendship and love.
An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories that begins at the end . . .
Seventeen-year-old Lenni Pettersson lives on the Terminal Ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. Though the teenager has been told she’s dying, she still has plenty of living to do. Joining the hospital’s arts and crafts class, she meets the magnificent Margot, an 83-year-old, purple-pajama-wearing, fruitcake-eating rebel, who transforms Lenni in ways she never imagined.
As their friendship blooms, a world of stories opens for these unlikely companions who, between them, have been alive for one hundred years. Though their days are dwindling, both are determined to leave their mark on the world. With the help of Lenni’s doting palliative care nurse and Father Arthur, the hospital’s patient chaplain, Lenni and Margot devise a plan to create one hundred paintings showcasing the stories of the century they have lived—stories of love and loss, of courage and kindness, of unexpected tenderness and pure joy.
Though the end is near, life isn’t quite done with these unforgettable women just yet.
Delightfully funny and bittersweet, heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot reminds us of the preciousness of life as it considers the legacy we choose to leave, how we influence the lives of others even after we’re gone, and the wonder of a friendship that transcends time.
This funny, heartwarming contemporary features 83 year old Margot and 17 year old Leni, who meet in the terminal ward of a hospital. There are a lot of reason I think this one could be a pick. It features an unlikely friendship (Anxious People and The Reckless Oath We Made) as well as a heartbreaking but ultimately hopefully tone ( Dear Edward and The Removed). Through paintings, the reader learns about the major events in Leni and Margot’s lives that have shaped them into the flawed and quirky people they have become. I think the book fits right in with other selections with a dry wit and sardonic humor like How Not To Die Alone and The Bad Muslim Discount. Not only that, but the book is blurbed by past Book of the Month author Kathleen Rooney, author of Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk. I think regardless, it will be a great book club pick and might even end up being features by some celebrity clubs.
With Teeth by Kristen ArnettWith Teeth by Kristen Arnett
Published by Riverhead on June 1, 2021
From the author of the New York Times-bestselling sensation Mostly Dead Things a surprising and moving story of two mothers, one difficult son, and the limitations of marriage, parenthood, and love
If she's being honest, Sammie Lucas is scared of her son. Working from home in the close quarters of their Florida house, she lives with one wary eye peeled on Samson, a sullen, unknowable boy who resists her every attempt to bond with him. Uncertain in her own feelings about motherhood, she tries her best--driving, cleaning, cooking, prodding him to finish projects for school--while growing increasingly resentful of Monika, her confident but absent wife. As Samson grows from feral toddler to surly teenager, Sammie's life begins to deteriorate into a mess of unruly behavior, and her struggle to create a picture-perfect queer family unravels. When her son's hostility finally spills over into physical aggression, Sammie must confront her role in the mess--and the possibility that it will never be clean again.
Blending the warmth and wit of Arnett's breakout hit, Mostly Dead Things, with a candid take on queer family dynamics, With Teeth is a thought-provoking portrait of the delicate fabric of family--and the many ways it can be torn apart.
In the same vein of books like Little Darlings and The Push, With Teeth examines the difficulties and nuances of motherhood in a refreshing and unique way. Perhaps the most unique facet of the novel is that it features a queer family and dives into the complexities of that dynamic both through the lense of marriage and motherhood, making it a perfect pick for June, which is Pride month. On the one hand, you have Sammie who feels insecure in her role as mother who works from home and does her best to take care of her son. On the other hand, you have Monika who works out of the home and leaves Sammie to handle things largely on her own. As Samson grows, the facade of perfection cracks and the three of them are left to pick up the pieces. Not only does With Teeth share similar themes to previous selections like queer family (Memorial), the honest struggles of parenthood (The Push) and the dark and destructive secrets that can tear a family apart (What Comes After); the novel is also blurbed by a plethora of previous Book of the Month authors including: Emma Straub, Jennifer Weiner, and Casey McQuiston. In my opinion, its another perfectly queer option for next month! ❤️?????
God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinneyGod Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney
Published by William Morrow on June 22, 2021
A mesmerizing debut novel set in northern Texas about two sisters who discover a dark secret about their father, the head pastor of an evangelical megachurch, that upends their lives and community—a coming-of-age story of family, identity, and the delicate line between faith and deception.
Luke Nolan has led The Hope congregation for over a decade, while his wife and daughters patiently uphold what it means to live righteously. Made famous by a viral sermon on purity co-written with his eldest daughter, Abigail, Luke is the prototype of a modern preacher: tall, handsome, a spellbinding speaker. But his youngest daughter Caroline has started to notice the cracks in their comfortable life. She is certain that her perfect, pristine sister is about to marry the wrong man—and Caroline has slid into sin with a boy she’s known her entire life, wondering why God would care so much about her virginity anyway.
When it comes to light, six weeks before Abigail’s wedding, that Luke has been having an affair with another woman, the entire Nolan family falls into a tailspin. Caroline seizes the opportunity to be alone with her sister. The two girls flee to the ranch they inherited from their maternal grandmother, far removed from the embarrassing drama of their parents and the prying eyes of the community. But with the date of Abigail’s wedding fast approaching, the sisters will have to make a hard decision about which familial bonds are worth protecting.
An intimate coming-of-age story and a modern woman’s read, God Spare the Girls lays bare the rabid love of sisterhood and asks what we owe our communities, our families, and ourselves.
As you probably know by now, I am a sucker for books which examine issues of faith and religion. Especially those books that chronicle any kind of transition within or out of a faith community. So naturally, I had to include God Spare the Girls in my round up. This contemporary novel features two sisters who discover a very dark secret about their father, the head of a mega-church in Northern Texas. This revelation, unearthered just six weeks before Abigail’s wedding to man she isn’t entirely sure she loves, forces the girls to reckon both with their faith and the familial ties that bind them together. Abigail and Caroline do not have a close relationship and as they retreat to a remote family farm to grapple with their discovery, they must also wrestle with their relationship and the differing trajectories they find themselves on. It is as much a character study of sisterhood as it is an exploration into what it means to wrestle with belief and how such experiences shape who we are and our relationships. God Spare the Girls is an intense, yet ultimately hopeful coming of age tale, similar in tone- not subject matter- to that of All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood and Betty by Tiffany McDaniel. I know I will be purchasing it regardless.
Dead Dead Girls by Nekesia AfiaDead Dead Girls (Harlem Renaissance Mystery #1) by Nekesa Afia
Published by Berkley Books on June 1, 2021
The start of an exciting new historical mystery series set in 1920s Harlem featuring Louise Lloyd, a young black woman caught up in a series of murders way too close to home...
Harlem, 1926. Young black girls like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead.
Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She's succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie's Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Manhattan's hottest speakeasy. Louise's friends might say she's running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don't tell her that.
When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she's been trying to ignore--several local black girls have been murdered over the past few weeks. After an altercation with a local police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or let a judge make an example of her.
Louise has no choice but to take the case and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind. She'll have to tackle her own fears and the prejudices of New York City society if she wants to catch a killer and save her own life in the process.
If you have not noticed, in my predictions I try to walk a fine line between bestselling, popular, debuts, ownvoices, etc… While this is definitely a list of viable Book of the Month selection possibilities, it is also a chance for me to put books on your radar that you might not be aware of. Thus we have Dead Dead Girls. This ownvoices historical mystery is set during the Harlem Renaissance and features a fiery and determined amateur sleuth, dead set on solving the case she gets sucked into. Afia creates a strong sense of time and place, fleshing out relationships and creating a protagonist that readers will definitely be rooting for, both in her efforts to find answers but also in her relationship with Rosa Maria, the young woman she is romantically involved with. While Dead Dead Girls is not a cozy mystery, it is blurbed by author of the cozy Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala which was a pick in April. With a rich setting, well developed characters and a solid mystery it’s a great start to a series that is not to be missed.
Island Queen by Vanessa RileyIsland Queen by Vanessa Riley
Published by William Morrow on July 6, 2021
A remarkable, sweeping historical novel based on the incredible true life story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies.
Born into slavery on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, Doll bought her freedom—and that of her sister and her mother—from her Irish planter father and built a legacy of wealth and power as an entrepreneur, merchant, hotelier, and planter that extended from the marketplaces and sugar plantations of Dominica and Barbados to a glittering luxury hotel in Demerara on the South American continent.
Vanessa Riley’s novel brings Doll to vivid life as she rises above the harsh realities of slavery and colonialism by working the system and leveraging the competing attentions of the men in her life: a restless shipping merchant, Joseph Thomas; a wealthy planter hiding a secret, John Coseveldt Cells; and a roguish naval captain who will later become King William IV of England.
From the bustling port cities of the West Indies to the forbidding drawing rooms of London’s elite, Island Queen is a sweeping epic of an adventurer and a survivor who answered to no one but herself as she rose to power and autonomy against all odds, defying rigid eighteenth-century morality and the oppression of women as well as people of color. It is an unforgettable portrait of a true larger-than-life woman who made her mark on history.
This beautiful and epic historical fiction does not come out until the beginning of July, but I think it has potential as an early release. Vanessa Riley is known for her romance novels, especially her historical romance, but in Island Queen, Riley dives deep in a sweeping historical fiction that I think should be on everyone’s radar. Set in the 18th century, Riley’s masterpiece follows the very real historical figure, Dorthy Kirwan Thomas, a former slave in the Caribbean, she went on to become an entrepreneur and business woman who worked for nearly two decades to free her immediate and extended family members. In that sense, it reminds me of recent Book of the Month selections such as Libertie by Kailyn Greenidge and The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare. Richly detailed and well researched, Island Queen brings to life a woman of history that fought for her autonomy and made a name for herself in a world that tried to force her into obscurity.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins ReidMalibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Ballantine Books on June 1, 2021
Malibu: August 1983. It's the day of Nina Riva's annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over--especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud--because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he's been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can't stop thinking about promised she'll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own--including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family's generations will all come bubbling to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
I think most of us unanimously agree that if Malibu Rising is not a pick, what are we even doing trying to guess what Book of the Month is thinking? Malibu Rising sounds like the epitome of a summer read, spanning a single night, its setting: an epic end of year summer party in Malibu 1983, lends itself to a feverish and chaotic atmosphere. The story focuses on the four Riva siblings, full of secrets, hopes and dreams, all coalescing into a night that will reveal everything and send the Rivas’ mansion up in flames. The novel is braided into two interlocking timelines: The first chronicles the night of the party, the second details the courtship of the Riva’s siblings parents, Mick and June. Reid’s novel is addictive and propulsive and is sure to grow the author’s fanbase even more than her last two Book of the Monthe featured novels. There are so many reasons to think that this will be a June pick- especially after we were all disappointed that it was not an early release for May. Aside from its dysfunctional family, strong sense of place, and unlikeable characters, Reid is a Book of the Month darling, and it’s also blurbed by past Book of the Month author, Elin Hilderbrand. I’ve read a few chapters of my advanced copy and I can tell you that not only does it feel like a fantastic Book of the Month choice, but it’s the perfect summer read!
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila HarrisThe Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Published by Atria Books on June 1, 2021
The Stepford Wives
in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.
It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
The Other Black Girl is going to be one of the hottest titles of the summer. I cannot tell you the amount of promotional stuff we have gotten at the library for this literary suspense novel. I have to admit that we have received three different advanced reading copies so needless to say, myself along with a handful of my coworkers have read it and it’s still making the rounds. You notice I did not put it in the thriller category and that choice was deliberate. I would definitely compare the Other Black Girl to quieter books like Luster by Raven Leilani and When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole. There is a sense of urgency in wanting to know what is happening and why, but it is not a plot driven book in the way that many thrillers are. Instead of looking outward for the crux of the story, The Other Black Girl looks inward at what the main character Nella is thinking, feeling, observing, etc… The novel explores issues of racism and otherness in the workplace and especially in publishing. It’s a smart, sharp, and prescient novel that will keep you guessing until the very end. It’s also blurbed by previous Book of the Month authors Emily St. John Mandel (Station Eleven) and Attica Locks (Pleasantville). Darkly funny and incredibly thought provoking I think The Other Black Girl is going to be one of the biggest novels of the summers, both for book clubs and individual readers alike!
Animal by Lisa TaddeoAnimal by Lisa Taddeo
Published by Avid Reader Press / Simon Schuster on June 8, 2021
Honestly, sometimes I think it’s the only recourse. Killing men in times like these
Joan has spent a lifetime enduring the cruel acts of men. But when one of them commits a shocking act of violence in front of her, she flees New York City in search of Alice, the only person alive who can help her make sense of her past. In the sweltering hills above Los Angeles, Joan unravels the horrific event she witnessed as a child—that has haunted her every waking moment—while forging the power to finally strike back.
Here is the electrifying debut novel from Lisa Taddeo, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Three Women, which was named to more than thirty best-of-the-year lists and hailed as “a dazzling achievement” (Los Angeles Times) and “a heartbreaking, gripping, astonishing masterpiece” (Esquire). Animal is a depiction of female rage at its rawest, and a visceral exploration of the fallout from a male-dominated society. With writing that scorches and mesmerizes, Taddeo illustrates one woman’s exhilarating transformation from prey into predator.
Many Book of the Month readers will recognize Taddeo’s name from her nonfiction title, Three Women which was a selection in July 2019. Animal is Taddeo’s first foray into fiction and while the reviews on this one are mixed I do think its worth having on my predictions list for multiple reasons. Primarily because Book of the Month has featured a handful of repeat authors when they wrote a book featured by Book of the Month some years ago, and then wrote another title in a completely different genre. One example of this practice includes Paula McClain who wrote Circling the Sun (Historical Fiction- August 2016) and, recently When the Stars Go Dark (Literary Mystery). Just last month, we had Laura Dave, who was featured on Book of the Month for her title Eight Hundred Grapes (Contemporary Fiction) and then was picked again last for her debut thriller The Last Thing He Told Me. Additionally, let’s not forget that Book of the Month enjoys selecting titles featuring female anger- think Red Clocks by Leni Zumas and Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore. It is also blurbed by previous Book of the Month author, Jo Jo Moyes, who has been featured by Book of the Month twice. Again, it’s mixed reviews might keep it from being a pick, but we will just have to see.
Unsettled Ground by Claire FullerUnsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
Published by Tin House Books on May 18, 2021
At fifty-one years old, twins Jeanie and Julius still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation in the English countryside. The cottage they have shared their entire lives is their only protection against the modernizing world around them. Inside its walls, they make music, and in its garden, they grow everything they need to survive. To an outsider, it looks like poverty; to them, it is home.
But when Dot dies unexpectedly, the world they’ve so carefully created begins to fall apart. The cottage they love, and the security it offered, is taken back by their landlord, exposing the twins to harsh truths and even harsher realities. Seeing a new future, Julius becomes torn between the loyalty he feels towards his sister and his desire for independence, while Jeanie struggles to find work and a home for them both. And just when it seems there might be a way forward, a series of startling secrets from their mother’s past come to the surface, forcing the twins to question who they are, and everything they know of their family’s history.
In Unsettled Ground, award-winning author Claire Fuller masterfully builds a tale of sacrifice and hope, of homelessness and hardship, of love and survival, in which two marginalized and remarkable people uncover long-held family secrets and, in their own way, repair, recover, and begin again.
Some may think the window of opportunity for Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller has passed and maybe you’re right. But I am still including it on my predictions list for May because in the last six months especially Book of the Month has included titles from repeat authors the month after they release. Some relevant examples include: Anna K Away (May), Goodnight Beautiful (November), Memorial by Bryan Washington (November). I think its possible that Book of the Month does it get for this popular mystery author. The novel itself follows 51-year-old twins Jeanie and Julius who, upon the death of their mother, have limited exposure to the outside world. Together and individually, they strive to find a way forward until secrets from their mother’s past come to light, forcing them to question who they are. Unsettled Ground gives me major Glass Castle and Girl A vibes. It’s essentially a literary, psychological fiction novel that dives more into a character study about what happens as two previously isolated siblings try to acclimate to the world. It’s is blurbed by past Book of the Month author Lauren Geoff and it’s beautiful prose and thought provoking subject matter make me believe that its still a contender for June.
Survive the Night by Riley SagerSurvive the Night by Riley Sager
Published by Dutton Books on June 29, 2021
It's November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana's in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it's guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it's to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she's named after, Charlie has her doubts. There's something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn't seem to want Charlie to see inside the car's trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she's sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie's suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there's nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing--survive the night.
I don’t know that Riley Sager’s forthcoming novel will be a main pick, but I would be really surprised if it was not an add on. The last couple of months we have seen popular repeat authors offered as adds ons; think: Ready Player Two, Project Hail Mary, and Good Company, to name a few. In his latest novel, Sager continues his dive into the tropes of thriller novels with Survive the Night is Sager’s take on the classic trope of “woman trapped in a car with a complete stranger” with a slight twist of course! Some might worry that because the book does not release until the end of June that is won’t be a June pick, but Home Before Dark was not released to the world until June 30th last year and it was a June Book of the Month pick so chance are high I think. Featuring an unreliable narrator, a compressed twenty-four hour timeline and plenty turns, having read this one already I will say that lovers of books like A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin will love this one. Furthermore, not only is Sager a Book of the Month favorite but his book is also blurbed by various past authors including: Taylor Adams (No Exit), May Cobb (The Hunting Wives), and Erin A. Craig (House of Salt and Sorrow). Fear not to those who ache for a matching set of Sager novels, I think it will be a Jun or July pick for sure.
The Maidens by Alex MichaelidesThe Maidens by Alex Michaelides
Published by Celadon Books on June 15, 2021
Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.
Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.
Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?
When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.
Michaelides’ debut The Silent Patient was a popular pick and widely loved by Book of the Month members. Its sheer popularity make me think that it could be a pick for June, though I do not know how Book of the Month will pick between Sager and Michaelides. I am extremely curious to see how it plays out. I suppose they could choose both but now I’m rambling- Winston is napping and not awake enough to stop me. Anyway, The Maidens is dark academia at its finest, following Mariana who is certain that Edward Fosca is a murderer when she is called in by her niece Zoe, to help investigate the death of her best friend. This Secret History-esque story features a charismatic Classicist professor– what is it with all the murderous professors being Classicist?– and his group of tight knit female students known as The Maidens. Unsurprisingly, Marianna develops an obsession with the group which becomes more and more dangerous as the body count rises. Suspicious characters lie around every turn of this campus set novel. With Book of the Month featuring dark academia books– hello Ninth House, The Secret History, Legendborn, etc… and the fact that its blurbed by two time Book of the Month author, Lucy Foley, I think there’s a high probability of it being a June selection or add on.
Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. FordSomebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
Published by St. Martin's Press on June 1, 2021
One of the most prominent voices of her generation debuts with an extraordinarily powerful memoir: the story of a childhood defined by the ever looming absence of her incarcerated father and the path we must take to both honor and overcome our origins.
For as long as she could remember, Ashley has put her father on a pedestal. Despite having only vague memories of seeing him face-to-face, she believes he's the only person in the entire world who understands her. She thinks she understands him too. He's sensitive like her, an artist, and maybe even just as afraid of the dark. She's certain that one day they'll be reunited again, and she'll finally feel complete. There are just a few problems: he's in prison, and she doesn't know what he did to end up there.
Through poverty, puberty, and a fraught relationship with her mother, Ashley returns to her image of her father for hope and encouragement. She doesn't know how to deal with the incessant worries that keep her up at night, or how to handle the changes in her body that draw unwanted attention from men. In her search for unconditional love, Ashley begins dating a boy her mother hates; when the relationship turns sour, he assaults her. Still reeling from the rape, which she keeps secret from her family, Ashley finally finds out why her father is in prison. And that's where the story really begins.
Somebody’s Daughter steps into the world of growing up a poor Black girl, exploring how isolating and complex such a childhood can be. As Ashley battles her body and her environment, she provides a poignant coming-of-age recollection that speaks to finding the threads between who you are and what you were born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.
I know I picked Somebody’s Daughter for May, but because it comes out at the beginning of June, I left it on my list of predictions for June. It’s a heavy, gritty memoir about growing up poor and Black in the Midwest. It is as much about Ashley’s familial struggles– with a father in prison and a mother who struggled to be the mother she needed and wanted- as it is a story of Ashley coming to terms with her changing body and what it means to be a woman. This book deserves all the trigger warnings and seems to fit in to other memoirs Book of the Month has picked recently like Aftershocks and The Beauty In Breaking. Ford’s debut is unapologetically brutal and honest and reminds me of emotionally resonate memoirs like Educated and The Glass Castle. The writing is lyrical and picturesque. It is also blurbed by a handful of previous Book of the Month authors like John Green (Turtles All The Way Down), Glennon Doyle (Untamed), Aminatou Sow (Big Friendship), and Laurie Halse Anderson (Shout).
One Last Stop by Casey McQuistonOne Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 1, 2021
For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don't exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can't imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there's certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.
But then, there's this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August's day when she needed it most. August's subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there's one big problem: Jane doesn't just look like an old school punk rocker. She's literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it's time to start believing in some things, after all.
The sophomore novel from the author of Red White & Royal Blue could easily go in the YA section of this post, but it’s first and foremost a romance, so here we are. In recent interviews, McQuiston has said she wanted to write a romance that could never realistically happen, and so, we have One Last Stop. It’s a time loop f/f romance featuring cynical August and stuck in time Jane. Here’s to hoping that love really can conquer all! August and Jane’s romance is ? but I also absolutely adored the cast of characters that made up her roommates and coworkers. In fact, they seriously reminded me of watching New Girl, down to a strange, questionable game that they play in their apartment late at night. If you loved Red, White & Royal Blue then One Last Stop is the sexy, hilarious novel with a strong narrative voice and unforgettable characters Not only is McQuiston a repeat Book of the Month author, but One Last Stop is blurbed by previous Book of the Month authors: Jasmine Guillory (The Proposal) and Helen Hoang (The Kiss Quotient).
The Devil and the Heiress by Harper St. GeorgeThe Devil and the Heiress (The Gilded Age Heiresses, #2) by Harper St. George
Published by Berkley Books on June 29, 2021
Sparks fly when a runaway heiress bargains with a devilish rogue to escape a marriage of convenience.
No one would guess that beneath Violet Crenshaw's ladylike demeanor lies the heart of a rebel. American heiresses looking to secure English lords must be on their best behavior, but Violet has other plans. She intends to flee London and the marriage her parents have arranged to become a published author--if only the wickedly handsome earl who inspired her most outrageously sinful character didn't insist on coming with her.
Christian Halston, Earl of Leigh, has a scheme of his own: escort the surprisingly spirited dollar princess north and use every delicious moment in close quarters to convince Violet to marry him. Christian needs an heiress to rebuild his Scottish estate but the more time he spends with Violet, the more he realizes what he really needs is her--by his side, near his heart, in his bed.
Though Christian's burning glances offer unholy temptation, Violet has no intention of surrendering herself or her newfound freedom in a permanent deal with the devil. It's going to take more than pretty words to prove this fortune hunter's love is true....
I think if The Devil and the Heiress makes the cut, it will be as an add on, but I have numerous reasons to believe that it could very well make the list. First off, The Heiress Gets A Duke was super popular and has sold out numerous times since it was offered as an add on in January 2021. With Book of the Month not really offering an overtly romantic pick for May, I think there’s even a possibility of getting two romance novels in June– especially since we got four contemporaries in May, but don’t get me started on that. The Devil and Heiress follows August’s sister Violet in her efforts to escape her overbearing parents and the arranged marriage they’ve planned for her. Then there is Christian, who desperate for money to save his manor and that’s when fate drops in. Christian agrees to escort Victoria to a writing retreat, with plans to stop at his manor for a quick wedding. While I don’t love a kidnapping trope, from what I can tell George handles it well. While this one is not blurbed by previous Book of the Month authors, I have hope that because the first book was so we’ll received, the second one might make an appearance as an add on for June.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi VoThe Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Published by Tordotcom on June 1, 2021
Immigrant. Socialite. Magician.
Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.
But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.
Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.
I debated exactly where I should put this retelling of The Great Gatsby. On the one hand, it has fantastical elements, on the other, it highlights a historically significant time al la roaring twenties. So I’m going with historical fantasy and no, not in the same way that Book of the Month labelled The Lost Apothecary historical fantasy. 😉 This Great Gatsby reimagining features the sidelined, one dimensional pro-tennis player, Jordan Baker, whose queerness and Vietnamese heritage frequently make her an oddity among her peers. Through Jordan’s story, Nghi Vo tackles issues of classicism, sexism, racism and homophobia- to name a few. With just a touch of magic to color the tapestry of sweltering parties and suffocating debauchery, Vo breaths new life into a dated classic. The Chosen and the Beautiful is truly as gorgeous as it’s cover. Its atmospheric tone, leisurely pace, and lyrical prose; it seems the perfect gem of a novel for the June, and any time of the month really. Outside of it’s Book of the Month friendly themes, it is blurbed by Alix E. Harrow, the author of Ten Thousand Doors of January.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-ÍyímídéAce of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
on June 1, 2021
Gossip Girl meets Get Out in Ace of Spades, a YA contemporary thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé about two students, Devon & Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.
When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.
Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.
As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?
With heart-pounding suspense and relevant social commentary comes a high-octane thriller from debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé.
Like previous YA picks such as Firekeeper’s Daughter and A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder, Ace of Spades is YA mystery that deserves all of the hype. It also includes an LGBTQIA+ romance and if ever there was a month to make up for the lack of sexually diverse picks, June is the month to do it. Call me Book of the Month, I have some ideas. But seriously, Ace of Spades, is at once heart-poundingly suspenseful and socially prescient as it tackles issues of racism, marginalization, and queerness in a story that is equal parts dark academia and compelling mystery. It’s perfect for those who craved a little diversity in books like The Secret History by Donna Tart. Ace of Spades is a powerful novel that explores how damaging white supremacy is on a societal scale. Its meant to make you uncomfortable and questions your own perceptions of the world. In my opinion, its perfect for Book of the Month for so many reasons. It t is also blurbed by previous Book of the Month author: Camryn Garrett, who wrote Full Disclosure. I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to read this one, Book of the Month pick or not!
What About You?
What do you think of my predictions? If any of these are picks what will you be adding to your box? Let me know in the comments!