Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For May, we’re looking at a coming-of-age story set in the 90s, a WWII story with an Italian setting, a new-ish series of Danish procedural mysteries, a Holocaust memoir, and historical fiction about the Mexican War.
If you enjoy coming of age stories:
Kai Harris’s What The Fireflies Knew (2022)*
For most kids, summer is something to look forward to, but 10-year-old KB is less than thrilled with her summer in 1996. Her father has died, and her mother has unceremoniously left her and her older sister with their estranged grandfather in Lansing, Michigan, which feels worlds away from what her childhood home in Detroit. She feels disconnected from her sister, her grandfather, and the neighbors. But perhaps, despite all the hardship–or maybe because of it–this is the summer that KB finds her own voice. . . .
*Audiobook also available on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Jesmyn Ward.
If you love historical fiction:
Anita Abriel’s A Girl During The War (2022)
Fiction set during WWII is always a perennial favorite, and the world of art during this time period is getting more attention from fiction writers of late. In this book, art historian Marina gets caught up in forces beyond her control in WWII-era Italy. Her father is murdered, and she finds herself taking refuge with American friends of the family in Florence. (One of whom is Belle da Costa Greene of The Personal Librarian fame). While there, she falls in love with a member of the resistance and helps her family friends with hiding their prized art from the Nazis. Complications ensue.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Laura Morelli’s The Stolen Lady and/or Kristin Harmel’s The Book of Lost Names.
If you prefer mysteries:
Katrine Engberg’s Kørner and Werner series (2016-present)**
If, like me, you enjoy Scandinavian/Nordic Noir, check out this new series. It follows 2 Copenhagen detectives–Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner–as they untangle a range of cases, from a disappearing child to murders at a hospital. Unfortunately, the books are being translated out of order–I don’t know why American publishers like doing that to this genre, but they do it all the time–but fortunately most of them work okay as standalones.
**First book (The Tenant) available as ebook on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Jussi Adler-Olsen, Karin Fossum, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, and Lars Kepler.
If you want a memoir:
Mala Kacenberg’s Mala’s Cat (2022)
Mala lives a pretty ordinary life for a 12-year-old Polish Jewish village girl–that is, until World War II breaks out. She’s able to escape the murderous ghetto her family is rounded up in, but she finds herself surviving in the forest, dodging both Nazis and locals who would be all too happy to turn her over to the Germans, with only a stray cat for company. What follows is a remarkable tale of survival.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Clara Kramer’s Clara’s War and Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
If you prefer audiobooks:
Reyna Grande’s A Ballad of Love and Glory (2022)
The Mexican War often gets short shrift in both American history and historical fiction, but Reyna Grande’s latest book helps remedy this. A Ballad of Love and Glory follows Ximena, a widowed traditional healer who serves in the Mexican Army as a nurse, and John, an Irishman serving in the American army who ends up deserting and leading his own Irish battalion in the Mexican Army. A well-researched and well-written novel that blends both historical fiction, action, and romance.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Isabel Allende and Paulette Jiles.
What’s your favorite new-ish books? What books are you buzzing about these days? Have you read any of these books? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.