9 Remarkable And Rewarding Contemporary Novels
Readers who love keeping up with the best in contemporary literature will surely enjoy the nine wonderful works listed here. Covering everything from marital issues to identity crises, these books aren't afraid to tackle hard truths and tell relevant stories that resonate with modern audiences. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.
Contemporary Novels: Our 9 Picks
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How Fiction Makes Our Brains Better
Sensitively attuned to the diverse experiences of modern life, the books included on this list explore issues ranging from immigration to infidelity and suicide. Packed with heartbreak as well as optimism, here, in no particular order, are nine exceptional and enriching contemporary reads.
At #1 is "The Betrayals" by Fiona Neill. Narrated from four different perspectives, this novel charts the breakdown of two families over one long summer vacation. Best friends since their early school days, Rosie and Lisa are now both married with children. When Lisa starts an affair with Rosie's husband Nick, and the lovers abandon their respective families to be together, everyone's lives come apart dramatically. As the parents and their children alike struggle to cope with the fallout, mental illness, repressed feelings, and further betrayals bring the threat of even greater tragedy.
For #2 we get "High and Inside" by Russell Rowland. A disgraced M.L.B. all-star whose career was destroyed by a series of alcohol-fueled scandals, Pete Hurley has moved from Boston to the wide open spaces of Montana to start over. Welcomed by the community, he decides to build a house for himself while he tries to rebuild his life. But even though he's far from the troubles he created back home, his painful memories and personal torments continue to haunt him. Pete will have to own up to his past to find the redemption he desperately seeks, before his old harmful habits return to consume him.
A disgraced M.L.B. all-star whose career was destroyed by a series of alcohol-fueled scandals, Pete Hurley has moved from Boston to the wide open spaces of Montana to start over.
Landing at #3 is "The Sweetness of Tears" by Nafisa Haji. Jo March, the daughter of an illustrious Evangelical Christian family, comes to question her religion and her heritage when she realizes she has a different eye color than her parents. Embarking on a journey across the globe to understand her past, Jo travels from California to Pakistan and Iraq, learning about her Muslim roots while trying to come to terms with her identity in a post-9/11 world.
For #4 we have "The Gunners" by Rebecca Kauffman. Six close childhood friends, who nicknamed themselves "The Gunners," reunite after years apart when one of their group, Sally, commits suicide. Now in their early thirties, they use their time together to catch up and reminisce, reigniting memories as well as bringing up secrets that weigh heavily on their consciences. Mikey, who was closest to Sally and is in the process of losing his eyesight, is particularly despondent. As he and the group eulogize their lost friend and hash out the past, they struggle with picking up the pieces and moving on.
Arriving at #5 is "Whiskey and Ribbons" by Leesa Cross-Smith. Louisville policeman Eamon is getting ready for a life of parenting with his wife Evi, who is at the end of her pregnancy. His adopted brother Dalton, meanwhile, is wrestling with his identity and determined to find his biological dad. When Eamon is killed in the line of duty one summer, the lives of all three family members are derailed. That winter, Dalton moves in with Evi to help raise her infant son Noah, and they become snowed in during a massive blizzard.
Louisville policeman Eamon is getting ready for a life of parenting with his wife Evi, who is at the end of her pregnancy.
For #6 we find "On Brassard's Farm" by Daniel Hecht. Worn down by the personal tragedies that have plagued her life in Boston, middle school teacher Ann Turner purchases a plot of land on a small Vermont dairy farm. Strapped for cash, and still owing money to complete the purchase, she takes up work with the farm's owners Jim and Diz Brassard. Although initially discouraged by the demanding physical labor, Ann comes to embrace the challenges of tilling the land, facing her struggles with a tenacious spirit.
Showing up at #7 is "13 rue Therese" by Elena Mauli Shapiro. When American academic Trevor discovers a box of World War I relics at the French university where he's just started working, he is fascinated by the story they might tell. Sorting through the box's photographs, letters, and various mementos, he attempts to put together the life of their former owner, Louise Brunet. As Trevor imagines the woman's doleful marriage and steamy affairs against the backdrop of bloody battle, he is drawn to Josianne, the clerk who left the artifacts in his office. Inspired by the actual Louise Brunet, the book includes photos of objects she owned during the war.
For #8 we get "VietnamEazy" by Trami Nguyen Cron. An aspiring chef who wants to make her cultural cuisine more visible in the U.S., the Vietnamese-American Kieu is thrilled when she is selected to be a contestant on a T.V. cooking competition. With each new meal she produces, memories of Kieu's mother and grandmother come to life, illuminating a family history shaped by war and the immigrant experience.
With each new meal she produces, memories of Kieu's mother and grandmother come to life, illuminating a family history shaped by war and the immigrant experience.
Finally, coming in at #9 is "Killing Williamsburg" by Bradley Spinelli. A mysterious suicide epidemic is sweeping through the titular Brooklyn neighborhood in 1999, but twenty-something Benson is unfazed. Disillusioned by Williamsburg's gentrification as well as his own chronic underemployment, he watches cynically as the hipsters around him kill themselves. To deal with the situation, his girlfriend Olive opens a suicide hotline, but she moves back to California when the service fails to save her friends' lives. Left alone in the midst of the escalating chaos, Benson's world-weariness turns to action as he works to rebuild his community.