Want to check out all the books we included and decide for yourself? Here are the 14 possible results.
Mother Daughter Widow Wife by Robin Wasserman
Wasserman’s sophomore novel is a labyrinthine story about memory, truth, and power, told in two timelines. In 1999, a woman arrives in Philadelphia with no money, ID, or memory of who she is. She falls under the care of the state and is invited to be part of a study on memory run by Dr. Benjamin Strauss, who sees her as nothing but a vessel for investigation. Lizzie, Strauss’s assistant, lover, and future wife, spends her days getting to know the mystery woman (called Wendy Doe) and imagining the freedom a new beginning could give. Twenty years later, Lizzie — now Elizabeth, and Strauss’s widow — finds Wendy’s 18-year-old daughter Alice at her front door, looking for her mother, who’s gone missing again. What are the secrets connecting these three women, and can they help each other? —Arianna Rebolini
Want by Lynn Steger Strong
Nothing in Elizabeth’s life is quite as she’d hoped it would be: She’s using her PhD and love of books to teach English at a New York City charter school more interested in the idea of disciplining “underserved” (i.e., working class, black) students than educating them; she and her husband live in a too-small apartment, sleeping in a loft bed in a closet so their daughters can benefit from a well-funded school zone; they’re broke and declaring bankruptcy; and lately she finds herself preoccupied with thoughts of her ex–best friend Sasha. Strong breaks up the present timeline with flashbacks to Elizabeth and Sasha’s high school and early-twenties friendship, a relationship that involved Elizabeth’s complete enthrallment with her beautiful and magnetic best friend, whose interactions with the world revealed both the blessings and perils of being a woman universally desired. And through Elizabeth’s reconnection with Sasha at this moment of crisis, Strong astutely explores the complexities of wanting within biased systems — as a woman, whose desires are so often quashed, but also as a white woman raised with wealth and the message that anything desired can be attained. —A.R.
Life Events by Karolina Waclawiak
Evelyn is not “good at confrontations,” we learn early on in this BuzzFeed News executive editor’s third novel. Her father is dying, her marriage is on the rocks, and Evelyn, at 37, has just quit her run-of-the-mill assistant job. When she decides to join a death doula group, helping people with terminal illnesses end their lives, she discovers a whole new world of people seeking answers for life’s biggest tragic inevitability. While the subject matter is undoubtedly dark, this novel is a ruminative, incredibly moving reflection on the impossible heartbreak of waiting for a loved one to die. —Tomi Obaro
Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey
When this future Pulitzer Prize–winning poet was just 19 years old, her mother was shot and killed by Trethewey’s former stepfather. Memorial Drive is Trethewey’s first wrenching prose account of that loss. In the beginning of the book she recounts happier days when Natasha’s father, a white Canadian academic, and her mother were still together — her parents marrying a year before Loving v. Virginia struck down anti-miscegenation laws. But everything changes when Natasha moves with her mother to Atlanta and a man Trethewey refers to as Big Joe enters their lives. Relying on memory, case documents, and transcripts of recorded phone conversations between her mother and Big Joe, Trethewey offers a gutting depiction of domestic violence. This book is not an easy read, but it is an illuminating one. —T.O.
Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Rowan and Neil have been in competition forever, and when Neil takes the valedictorian title, Rowan’s determined to win at something to compensate. The only option is Howl, the final senior class event, a scavenger hunt with an Assassins component. But when she learns that some of their classmates are teaming up against them both, Rowan will have no choice but to team up with Neil to win the cash prize, even if they hate each other. Which, spoiler alert, they in fact do not, making for brilliant, hilarious, and oh-so-romantic results. —Dahlia Adler
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
Nothing like a solid political romance in an election year, and Colbert has more than delivered on that with this dual-POV story of a couple who gets together over activism and social justice. Marva has been counting down the minutes until her first opportunity to vote, but it’s marred by seeing a guy her age turned away at the polls for being at the wrong center. That guy is Duke, and together, they run around town trying to get him the opportunity to do his civic duty, bouncing up against every obstacle possible in the process, and finding they share a passion for more than justice. —D.A.
More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn
Podcaster Luke and music blogger Vada may work in fairly close proximity, but that’s only made it harder for them to confess their long-held feelings for each other. When they team up for a competition, they have no choice but to spend more time together, which makes their respective crushes even more painful. If only two people who regularly deal in emotions could find the words to express their own. —D.A.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Soraya cannot be touched. Cursed by Divs (a society of magical creatures) as an infant so that her skin is poisonous, she lives in isolation — despite being the twin of the Shah of Golvahar — and finds solace in her garden. But when her brother arrives home from a campaign with a captured Div — and the handsome stranger who helped defeat it — she jumps at the chance to find out how to cure her curse. What begins as a “Rapunzel” and “Sleeping Beauty” retelling is subverted in the second half of the novel when everything Soraya knows as reality is overthrown. It’s a lovely entwining of Persian culture and myth with well-known fairy tales. —Margaret Kingsbury
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Immanuelle Moore’s mother was promised to the Prophet — but she went against his word and conceived a child with an outsider of a different race. Once her illicit romance was discovered, she escaped into the forbidden forest — where witches and darkness and evil flourish — only to return months later to give birth to her daughter die. That daughter, Immanuelle, lives with the burden of her mother’s sinful legacy, and while she follows all the rules and codes of the Prophet, she doubts their validity. One day, she enters the woods to catch an errant sheep and encounters strange women who gift her her mother’s diary. Within the diary, her mother drew strange, horrific creatures and wrote a prophecy that the apocalypse would be heralded by four phases — blood, blight, darkness, and slaughter — and it seems that, by visiting the woods, Immanuelle has possibly initiated this foretold apocalypse. This is an intensely dark read and one of the most original books I’ve read in a long time. —M.K.
Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters
When Shady Grove’s father died in a car accident, he left her his fiddle — but this is no ordinary fiddle. When played with enough sorrow, it can call up ghosts. After Shady’s stepfather is murdered, and her older brother Jesse is accused and arrested for the crime, Shady’s sorrow reaches a peak, and ghosts come to her when she plays the old folksongs her father taught her. She’s determined to prove her brother’s innocence and believes answers might lie with the dead. But every time she calls up ghosts with her fiddle, a dark, shadowy man appears and sometimes even controls her movements. Her friends try to help her find other ways to help her brother, but the allure of the fiddle is too strong. Meanwhile, she’s torn between her long-time crush for her fellow bandmate Sarah and her new crush for cowboy Cedar, who plays the bluegrass folksongs Shady adores. In this YA debut, Waters perfectly captures small-town Southern life, and her prose sings as much as Shady’s fiddle does. It’s a lovely and eerie Southern gothic. Content warning for child abuse. —M.K.
Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby
Today Beauregard “Bug” Montage is a hard-working and honest family man and mechanic. But not that long ago, he was known as one of the best getaway drivers in the Southeast. Bug has tried to put all of that behind him — but when his new life starts to fall apart around him and his financial obligations start to mount, he can’t turn down a lucrative gig as a getaway driver in a major jewelry store heist. Then the robbery goes sideways — and Bug’s life and family are in danger. Part heist story, part Southern noir, Blacktop Wasteland is a twisty crime thriller that explores the way poverty, race, toxic masculinity, and the American Dream affect the choices we make. —Dana Vogel
The End of Her by Shari Lapena
Stephanie has everything she ever wanted: two newborn twin daughters and a loving husband Patrick. But when a woman from Patrick’s past accuses him of murdering his first wife — who he claims died in a tragic accident — Stephanie doesn’t know who to believe. Patrick insists it’s just a blackmail attempt, but this woman knows personal things about Patrick that make Stephanie question her husband and the life she’s built with him. A novel of domestic suspense with shifting POVs, The End of Her will have you questioning who to believe right up until the end. —D.V.
Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey
Chloe has been working side-by-side with her boss Nick at his local coffee shop for a while now. Though he has a gruff and grumpy exterior, their quick banter manages to get a smile out of him…sometimes. But there’s never been any more to their relationship. Except Chloe’s best friend thinks differently and she wrote an entire movie about them and their supposed chemistry, forcing her to reevaluate everything she thought she knew. —Shyla Watson
Mr. Malcolm’s List by Suzanne Allain
The Honorable Mr. Jeremy Malcolm is looking for a wife who meets his particular standards…a whole list of them, in fact. He thinks that no woman will ever be up to his standards, but then he meets Selina. Too bad she’s actually in town to help her best friends seek revenge against him. —S.W.