Evvie Drake Starts Over
When Evvie Drake’s husband, Tim, dies unexpectedly, she tries to be heartbroken. But what no one knows is that Evvie was preparing to leave him when she got the call about his death. Thinking Evvie needs some help dealing with her grief (and to assist with her money troubles), her best friend Andy suggests that she take on a roommate: a friend of his, Dean Tenney, a major league pitcher who, for some unknown reason, can no longer pitch. As the two share their past, they learn that there’s more to their own stories than they ever knew.
Her Royal Highness
When Millie Quint discovers that her sort-of girlfriend has been hooking up with someone else, she’s bereft. She’s lucky that fate provides her a way out: She’s accepted to an exclusive boarding school, but it turns out her roommate, Flora, is more than Millie bargained for. She’s a princess—an actual princess. But as Millie gets to know Flora, she changes her opinion, and it turns out sparks might fly between the two of them.
Juliet Takes a Breath
Juliet Palante is ready for the summer of her life interning with Harlowe Brisbane, the go-to source for all things feminism. But first, she has to come out to her family as a lesbian—a coming out that doesn’t quite go the way she planned. Still, she embarks on her summer with enthusiasm, only to find that nothing is going how she planned—but it turns out that’s all part of the beauty of life.
Onyii and Ify grew up dreaming of the possibilities of what could be while living on an Earth that is almost uninhabitable. Almost two centuries into the future, the ravages of climate change and nuclear war have taken their toll. Now, the sisters are caught in the middle of an endless civil war in Nigeria, but they hope for peace and prosperity. Will they find a way to achieve their dreams, or is survival all they can ask for?
There’s a serial murderer stalking the New Orleans underworld, and two girls are dead in a matter of weeks. Celine Rousseau been enjoying life so far in her new city, captivated by the vibrancy of it all. But now she’s starting to suspect that Sébastien, the handsome leader of the New Orleans underworld, might know more than he’s letting on about the murders, and as she starts investigating, she wonders if she might be next.
Zinnia doesn’t know who hired her to spy on Cloud, America’s largest employer that sells people everything they need (and a lot of stuff they don’t), delivering it to their door in the blink of an eye. But she’s determined to do the job she’s being paid for, infiltrating the company and finding out its darkest secrets. On her first day, she meets Paxton, who’s thrilled to have the chance to work for Cloud. Will Zinnia be able to use Paxton to accomplish her mission? What will she discover about this gigantic corporation?
When nine-year-old Miles and his best friend Hector decide to start spying on Miles’s mother, it starts out innocently enough. But soon he learns that his parents are separating, and as he continues to snoop, he finds out details about the private lives of the adults around him. It’s a thoughtful coming-of-age story about family, love, and finding your place.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
This modern classic of a novel features Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy who finds the intricacies of emotion puzzling. He knows that makes him different from other people, which is why he writes about it in a book. When a dog in Christopher’s neighborhood is killed, he decides that he’s going to find the murderer, no matter who stands in his way.
What would happen if we could relive our memories as if they were really happening? That’s what neuroscientist Helena Smith is working on, and she’s close to achieving it thanks to technology. But what connection might Helena’s life work have to the devastating new sickness that’s going around, False Memory Syndrome, that is giving people memories that aren’t theirs? That’s what police officer Barry Sutton is determined to figure out, with Helena’s help.
Olive, Again (Oprah's Book Club)
Olive Kitteridge was a tour-de-force in the literary world, an incredible set of interweaving narratives set in Crosby, Maine, connected by retired schoolteacher Olive Kitteridge. Now, Strout has done it again with Olive, Again, returning to that small town to deliver more stories about the relationships we have, the people we love, and who we really are deep down.
Alexandra Witt just wants to leave her past behind her, which is why she decides to become a teacher at Stonebridge Academy. But as Alex gets to know her students, she finds the “boys will be boys” culture of the school disturbing. Soon the girls in her class, with some encouraging from Alex, decide to upend the status quo entirely, with devastating consequences.
The Reckless Oath We Made
Zee doesn’t expect anyone to come to her rescue. She does her best to manage the pain from her shattered hip and deal with the constant stream of bills, while avoiding involvement with her boss, who deals drugs on the side. But when she meets Gentry at physical therapy, they form a bond that is surprisingly strong, and he’s there for Zee when the unthinkable happens and she needs help.
A Single Thread
The year is 1932, and the world doesn’t have a place for Violet Speedwell. After all, her brother and fiancé both died in the Great War, and she’s set on a course of life as a spinster. But Violet decides to head out on her own, moving to Winchester and becoming involved with a group of women who sew items for the cathedral. Through this group, Violet finds a new home and a community to support her during a time women weren’t supposed to find fulfillment on their own.
Women are taught not to take up space and that our appetites should be suppressed. But what happens if you feed a hungry woman? That’s just what Roberta finds out, when she forms the Supper Club with Stevie, a place where women can truly feed themselves. This is a novel about women taking their place in the world, unapologetic for who they are and what they stand for.
For many of us, characters are the reason we read books. We get emotionally invested in their stories. We root for them, cheer for them, and hope against hope that they’ll succeed. That’s why books with spunky protagonists, who are full of fire and might just spit at you if you look at them wrong, have a special place in my heart.
If you’re craving a read with an unforgettable main character who’s full of life, you should absolutely find something to sate you on this list. From sweet romances to war stories to creepy depictions of the future, we’ve got a book or two for you right here.
Featured image: Frances McDormand in Olive Kitteridge (2014)