Ms. Hempel is a brand new 7th grade teacher in her twenties, who is also newly engaged. She loves her students, while struggling with her own coming of age issues and the question of whether she wants to continue teaching. A finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, Ms. Hempel Chronicles has been praised as utterly charming (Carolyn See, Washington Post), nimble and entertaining (Josh Emmons, New York Times), and Intricate and absorbing (Publishers Weekly).
Shockmonger Palahniuk’s latest is described by Barnes & Noble as “Manchurian Candidate meets South Park.” The plot involves a group of young adults from a totalitarian state infiltrating America disguised as foreign exchange students. Publishers Weekly describes it as “potent if cartoonish cultural satire that succeeds despite its stridently confounding prose.”
Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn centers on a young Irish woman, Eilis Lacey, who allows her mother and sister to send her from their small town to a new life in 1950s America. Just as she starts to form attachments (including a civil marriage to an Italian man), she is called home to her sister’s funeral. Once she’s there, the familiar, as well as romantic interest from a local boy, begins to pull at her. She’s left to decide between her two possible futures.
Sag Harbor is Colson Whitehead’s semi-autobiographical account of a summer in the Hamptons in the mid-80s. Benji, the protagonist, attends a predominately white Manhattan prep school during the school year, but his summers with his brother on Long Island are a heaven of unstructured, unsupervised time — his parents only come out on the weekends. Almost all critics are describing it as warm, funny and real.
Elinor Lipman is known for her sparkling wit. Anika Fajardo says her latest, The Family Man, is evocative of Jane Austen and Entertainment Weekly. Henry Archer, a gay New York lawyer finds himself reunited with his actress stepdaughter from a brief marriage from the distant past. Publishers Weekly says “The plot alone will suck in readers, but Lipman’s knack for creating lovable and multifaceted characters is the real draw.”
Photo credits, from top:
Leigh Dana Jackson
David Armstrong for the New York Times
Erin Patrice O’Brien
Gabriel Amadeus Cooney