There are so many great books coming out in April that I didn’t know where to start. I had such a difficult time narrowing down my best of the month to ten titles, but I managed. Without further ado, here are my Top 10 Book Selections for April 2013.
The Death of Fidel Perez by Elizabeth Huergo is available now from Unbridled Books.
On July 26, 2003, the 50th anniversary of the Moncada Army Barracks raid in Santiago de Cuba, something unexpected happens. When Fidel Pérez and his brother accidentally tumble to their deaths from their Havana balcony, the neighbors’ outcry, “Fidel has fallen,” is misinterpreted by those who hear it. The misinformation quickly ripples outward, and it reawakens the city. Three Cubans in particular are affected by the news—an elderly vagrant Saturnina, Professor Pedro Valle, and his student Camilo—all haunted by the past and now forced to confront a new future, perhaps another revolution. Their stories are beautifully intertwined as they converge in the frantic crowd that gathers in La Plaza de la Revolución.
By turns humorous and deeply poignant, The Death of Fidel Pérez reflects on the broken promises of the Cuban Revolution and reveals the heart of a people with a long collective memory.
Coming April 2 from Reagan Arthur Books is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.
Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.
Grove Press will release Laura Lee Smith’s debut novel Heart of Palm on April 2.
Utina, Florida, is a small, down-at-heels southern town. Once enlivened by the trade in Palm Sunday palms and moonshine, Utina hasn’t seen economic growth in decades, and no family is more emblematic of the local reality than the Bravos. Deserted by the patriarch years ago, the Bravos are held together in equal measure by love, unspoken blame, and tenuously brokered truces.
The story opens on a sweltering July day, as Frank Bravo, dutiful middle son, is awakened by a distress call. Frank dreams of escaping to cool mountain rivers, but he’s only made it ten minutes from the family restaurant he manages every day and the decrepit, Spanish-moss-draped house he was raised in, and where his strong-willed mother and spitfire sister—both towering redheads, equally matched in stubbornness—are fighting another battle royale. Little do any of them know that Utina is about to meet the tide of development that has already engulfed the rest of Northeast Florida. When opportunity knocks, tempers ignite, secrets are unearthed, and each of the Bravos is forced to confront the tragedies of their shared past.
Reminiscent of Kaye Gibbons, Lee Smith, Anne Tyler, and Fannie Flagg,Heart of Palm introduces Laura Lee Smith as a captivating new voice in American fiction.
Jennifer McVeigh’s The Fever Tree comes out April 4 from Amy Einhorn Books.
Having drawn comparisons to Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa, The Fever Tree is a page-turner of the very first order. In London she was caged by society. In South Africa, she is dangerously free.
Frances Irvine, left destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, has been forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and emigrate to the Southern Cape of Africa. 1880 South Africa is a country torn apart by greed. In this remote and inhospitable land she becomes entangled with two very different men—one driven by ambition, the other by his ideals. Only when the rumor of a smallpox epidemic takes her into the dark heart of the diamond mines does she see her path to happiness. But this is a ruthless world of avarice and exploitation, where the spoils of the rich come at a terrible human cost and powerful men will go to any lengths to keep the mines in operation. Removed from civilization and disillusioned by her isolation, Frances must choose between passion and integrity, a decision that has devastating consequences. The Fever Tree is a compelling portrait of colonial South Africa, its raw beauty and deprivation alive in equal measure. But above all it is a love story about how—just when we need it most—fear can blind us to the truth.
April 9 is the publication date for a new novel from one of my favorite authors. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer comes out on that day from Riverhead Books.
From bestselling author Meg Wolitzer a dazzling, panoramic novel about what becomes of early talent, and the roles that art, money, and even envy can play in close friendships.
The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.
Coming April 16 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer.
This is a story about accepting the people we love—the people we have to love and the people we choose to love, the families we’re given and the families we make. It’s the story of two women adrift in New York, a widow and an almost-orphan, each searching for someone she’s lost. It’s the story of how, even in moments of grief and darkness, there are joys waiting nearby.
Lorca spends her life poring over cookbooks, making croissants and chocolat chaud, seeking out rare ingredients, all to earn the love of her distracted chef of a mother, who is now packing her off to boarding school. In one last effort to prove herself indispensable, Lorca resolves to track down the recipe for her mother’s ideal meal, an obscure Middle Eastern dish called masgouf.
Victoria, grappling with her husband’s death, has been dreaming of the daughter they gave up forty years ago. An Iraqi Jewish immigrant who used to run a restaurant, she starts teaching cooking lessons; Lorca signs up.
Together, they make cardamom pistachio cookies, baklava, kubba with squash. They also begin to suspect they are connected by more than their love of food. Soon, though, they must reckon with the past, the future, and the truth—whatever it might be. Bukra fil mish mish, the Arabic saying goes. Tomorrow, apricots may bloom.
Amy Brill’s beautiful debut The Movement of Stars comes out April 18 from Riverhead Books.
A love story set in 1845 Nantucket, between a female astronomer and the unusual man who understands her dreams.
It is 1845, and Hannah Gardner Price has lived all twenty-four years of her life according to the principles of the Nantucket Quaker community in which she was raised, where simplicity and restraint are valued above all, and a woman’s path is expected to lead to marriage and motherhood. But up on the rooftop each night, Hannah pursues a very different—and elusive—goal: discovering a comet and thereby winning a gold medal awarded by the King of Denmark, something unheard of for a woman.
And then she meets Isaac Martin, a young, dark-skinned whaler from the Azores who, like herself, has ambitions beyond his expected station in life. Drawn to his intellectual curiosity and honest manner, Hannah agrees to take Isaac on as a student. but when their shared interest in the stars develops into something deeper, Hannah’s standing in the community begins to unravel, challenging her most fundamental beliefs about work and love, and ultimately changing the course of her life forever.
Inspired by the work of Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in America, The Movement of Stars is a richly drawn portrait of desire and ambition in the face of adversity.
The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard will be released April 23. Picador is the publisher.
A seventeen-year-old London girl flies to Los Angeles for the funeral of her mother Lily, from whom she had been separated in her childhood. After stealing a suitcase of letters, clothes and photographs from her mum’s bedroom at the top of a hotel on Venice Beach, the girl spends her summer travelling around Los Angeles returning love letters and photographs to the men who had known her mother. As she discovers more about Mandy’s past and tries to re-enact her life, she comes to question the foundations of her own personality.
The Pink Hotel was longlisted for the Orange Prize. True Blood star Anna Paquin praised this novel: “This book moved and provoked me in ways I can’t fully articulate….Extraordinary.”
Rhonda Riley’s debut novel The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope hits shelves on April 23. This title is from Ecco. I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope. Look for my review April 22.
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is an unconventional and passionately romantic love story that is as breathtaking and wondrous as The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.
During WWII, teenager Evelyn Roe is sent to manage the family farm in rural North Carolina, where she finds what she takes to be a badly burned soldier on their property. She rescues him, and it quickly becomes clear he is not a man…and not one of us. The rescued body recovers at an unnatural speed, and just as fast, Evelyn and Adam fall deeply in love. In The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, Rhonda Riley reveals the exhilarating, terrifying mystery inherent in all relationships: No matter how deeply we love someone, and no matter how much we will sacrifice for them, we can only know them so well.
On April 30, Algonguin Books will release Julie Wu’s gorgeous novel, The Third Son. Look for my interview with the author on that date.
It’s 1943. As air-raid sirens blare in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, eight-year-old Saburo walks through the peach forests of Taoyuan. The least favored son of a Taiwanese
politician, Saburo is in no hurry to get home to the taunting and abuse he suffers at the hands of his parents and older brother. In the forest he meets Yoshiko, whose descriptions of her loving family are to Saburo like a glimpse of paradise. Meeting her is a moment he will remember forever, and for years he will try to find her again. When he finally does, she is by the side of his oldest brother and greatest rival. Set in a tumultuous and violent period of Taiwanese history—as the Chinese Nationalist Army lays claim to the island and one autocracy replaces another—The Third Son tells the story of lives governed by the inheritance of family and the legacy of culture, and of a young man determined to free himself from both.
In Saburo, author Julie Wu has created an extraordinary character, a gentle soul forced to fight for everything he’s ever wanted: food, an education, and his first love, Yoshiko. A sparkling, evocative debut, it will have readers cheering for this young boy with his head in the clouds who, against all odds, finds himself on the frontier of America’s space program.
Well, there you have it! These are the titles I’m most excited about for April. Which of these have you read? Which do you plan to read?
Now go outside–and read a book.