On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Little Dog writes a letter to his mother that she will never read in poet Vuong’s lyrical work of autofiction. Rose, born of violence and trauma in Vietnam, struggling to raise her son in America while still passing on abuse, knows beauty, too—he recalls her obsession with coloring books, with making a scene and putting herself in it. “How could I tell you what you were describing was writing?” asks Little Dog—asks Vuong, of his own mother—in this stirring debut.
Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune
Her mother’s death brings estranged daughter Natalie home to San Francisco’s Chinatown, where her grandmother’s restaurant stirs up resentful memories of caring for her agoraphobic mother while the neighbors turned a blind eye. Too bad Natalie has inherited the restaurant—and cooking three of her grandmother’s recipes is all that can save her community. A supernatural thread weaves throughout, as Natalie must collect magical ingredients like teardrops and fireworks, and watch as her culinary creations enact kintsugi-like healing.
The Most Fun We Ever Had
This summer’s multigenerational saga follows the Sorenson clan through two timelines: The first, starting in the 1970s, charts the nigh-impossibly resilient love of Marilyn and David, still flirtatious and frank even after raising four varyingly neurotic daughters. The second thread is a mere 12 months, yet it packs just as much as those four decades, as impulsive Wendy tracks down perfect Violet’s biological teenage son (given up for adoption), newly-tenured Liza ponders whether to keep a pregnancy, and baby Grace struggles to maintain her fabricated life.
How Could She
Who hasn’t made the mistake of looking at friends’ Instagram stories and assuming they must be living their best lives? Geraldine—37, single, and unambitious in Toronto—believes she’s gotten the short end of the stick compared to former magazine colleagues Rachel and Sunny. But when Geraldine relocates to New York City to absorb some of her frenemies’ good fortune in Mechler’s satirical yet earnest debut about the Manhattan media scene, her arrival threatens Sunny and Rachel’s respective houses of cards.
Death and Other Happy Endings
In a sort of reverse P.S. I Love You, Jennifer learns she has a terminal blood disease that has suddenly left her with only 90 days to live, so she writes letters to the three most significant people in her life. But as she confronts her cheating ex-husband and her unreliable ex-boyfriend and tries to fill her remaining time with new memories alongside her estranged sister, Jennifer just might go overboard with this whole telling-the-truth thing.
The Other Mrs. Miller
The socialite daughter of an exposed rapist, Phoebe Miller is used to being observed—so the blue sedan and its mysterious driver parked in her cul-de-sac isn’t unusual. But when Phoebe’s drawn into the lives of her new neighbors—from gossipy Vicki to her alluring college-bound son, Jake—and momentarily distracted from watching her watcher, this sleepy neighborhood goes to hell. A brutal murder reveals twists about everyone in Phoebe’s orbit in this summer’s suburban thriller.
Ellie and the Harpmaker
Told from the dual perspectives of its title characters, harpist Prior’s debut depicts the musical bond between socially awkward Dan, who carves harps in the English moors, and the woman who wants to learn to play before her 40th birthday. But their lessons, and burgeoning friendship, are threatened by her jealous, boorish husband.
The Other's Gold
What best fuses a friendship is the sharing of a secret. Would that all of our bonding taboos be so easily compartmentalized, as is the case of Ames’ debut, about the relatably messy lives of four college suitemates during school and postgrad. Each part—The Accident, the Accusation, the Kiss, and the Bite—contain a multitude of sins, from the awful consequences of athletic Alice’s sibling rivalry to wealthy Ji Sun’s shockingly calculated moves. In adulthood, Lainey and Margaret’s secrets impact children, beginning the cycle anew.
Bringing Down the Duke
New historical romance series A League of Extraordinary Women kicks off with heroine Annabelle Archer’s own debut: part of Oxford’s first class of female students in 1879, this impoverished intellectual must prove herself while advocating on-campus for women’s suffrage. Her opponent in both is Sebastian Devereux, the Duke of Montgomery, operating under his own agenda—to make the bluestocking a bride and nip her ambition in the bud. But Annabelle knows how to disrupt a duchy and a duke…
Single and directionless, waitress Emily has nothing better to do than spend the summer helping out her sister, who’s recuperating from a car accident, by wrangling her teenage niece. But instead of chaperoning a dance, Emily is tasked with playing tavern wench at the local Renaissance faire. At first, clashing with grumpy Ren faire owner Simon seems like it’ll make the season drag—but when his Captain Blackthorn character strikes up a steamy in-game romance with “Emma,” suddenly there’s a new reason for this summer to be nearly unbearable.
Four is the magic number in this summer’s fiction debuts: A quartet of college friends are complicit in one another’s secrets. Four sisters graduate from petty disagreements into potentially family-ruining revelations. The season’s best love story lasts four decades—but it has some excellent runners-up, from a meeting of the minds and hearts in 19th-century Oxford to an is-it-real-or-just-in-character Ren faire romance. From poets, pop culture writers, and even a harpist, happy endings await in these inaugural summer reads.
Featured Image: @s_madeleine_2006/Twenty20