Six Picks: Debut Novels

There’s nothing like a debut novel—it’s your introduction to a brand-new author that is just emerging onto the publishing scene. And oftentimes, these first works are so stunningly well-written, it shocks us that they haven’t penned ten bestsellers already. These novels—all published in the last year—cover a wide variety of topics, but they’re all skillfully written and they leaving us wondering when their respective sophomore novels will come out.

Which novels by first-time authors have you enjoyed? Which ones should we add to our TBR piles? Let us know in the comments below!

  • I just finished a gorgeous first novel, The Mermaid’s Daughter by Ann Claycomb. She has published short fiction before but not a novel. This is a stunning fantasy that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” but is definitely NOT a Disney-type story with a Disney ending.

  • Lorie

    Read and loved both The Nest and Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. Also recently read and loved Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser.

  • lovinlarge49

    I so want to read The Chilbury Ladies Choir. I have seen many giveaways with this book but have yet to win.

  • Sara Chamberlin

    The Nest is one of my favorite books of the past few years–a wonderful take on family. I kept hoping throughout that it would hold up, and it did–right to the very last word.

  • Sally Strong

    One of my recent favorite debut novels is The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. It’s the story of three women whose lives intersect during WWII. It’s based on real unsung women who change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.

  • maureen

    The Laura’s, chilbury ladies choir, little French bistro, long black veil, the typist and the farmhouse by tiffany turner

  • RoRo Kaye

    I so want to read THE LILAC GIRLS I enjoy reading novels about WWII- I respect the people that lived through that awful time period- , also want to read THE NEST.

  • Ilene H.

    Live and Let Die a novel by Bianca Sloane, I really enjoyed it.

  • P.A. Jaroma

    Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan. Also Allen Eskens’first book, the Life we bury

  • Pam

    Lincoln in the Bardo. A bit of a cheat but technically is Saunders first novel. I also liked The Nix, The Nest and Homegoing

  • Maureen Lipsky

    Y/a book The Hate you give by Angie Thomas

    • Carol Lieto

      I just read this all night long. It is amazing.

  • Honeybrown1976

    Definitely The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I did enjoy A Study in Charlotte as well.

  • schnauzermommy

    Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells

  • Robin Blake

    I really enjoyed My Father and Atticus Finch : A Lawyer’s Fight for Justice in 1930 by joseph Beck. A real take on the character if I ever saw one!

  • Catbee

    The Night Circus!

  • BamaNancy

    “For Best and Worst” by Marie Nicole Harper

  • check out Wilmington, NC author Taylor Brown’s 2015 debut novel “Fallen Land”, beautiful, haunting, riveting.

  • Gussie Lewis

    Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer pubs in April, 2017. A HS Senior loses her mother unexpectedly. She writes letters to her and leaves them at her grave. A young man doing community service mowing the cemetery grass reads one of the letters. He writes a reply that she finds. She is outraged that anyone would read her letter and reply. As the novel unfolds we find out what happened and how they both come to terms with their grief.

  • Nancy Hall

    The 2016 Pulitzer was won for a debut novel, The Sympathizer. I just read it and loved it. It’s about a post-war Vietnamese communist sympathizer, who infiltrates a group of South Vietnamese loyalists, living in the U.S., who want to retake Vietnam from the communists. It’s thoughtful and suspenseful.

  • Donna Young Whitley

    The Fire by Night, Teresa Mesineo. Historical fiction about 2 US Army nurses in WWII. Painstakingly researched, beautifully written. It will break your heart while at the same give you unlimited hope.

  • Liza Grigoropoulos

    The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins is great! A college student befriends a dying man in a nursing home, finds out he was imprisoned for 25 years for a murder he didn’t commit, but also didn’t fight the conviction. Why?

  • cordelia724

    Study in Charlotte interesting take on Holmes and Watson.
    The Nest is good study of a dysfunctional family. Did not really like any of the characters, but kept me reading.
    Lilac Girls really upsetting!

  • Blue G

    Fat Man and Little Boy by Mike Meginnis (2014, Black Balloon Publishing). Hard to categorize Fat Man and Little Boy. The title will immediately give away something to those who grew up with the rise of nuclear power and are familiar with WWII history (fat man and little boy being the names given to the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan). In this debut novel, the bombs rise from the ashes of the devastation they cause as, well, a fat man and a little boy, literally. Haunted by memories of who they were, hunted by elusive people who have motives that seem unclear to them, the two “brothers” journey across Europe and USA, learning to be human and understanding the consequences of their existence. In a way, the book is about second chances, but in a very unlikely fashion. It is also about destiny, fate, and choices we make and the consequences of others’ choices we must endure. At times absurd, at times rather touching, it is a fascinating, engrossing, well written debut.

  • joyce tener

    The Last Days of Cafe Leila by Donia Bijan

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