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MALIBU RISING by Taylor Jenkins-Reid

The book of the season has to be Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins-Reid, with its azure ocean blue cover (with surfboards!) and its breezy early 80s California setting. It has been everywhere this summer – BOTM, Read With Jenna, Instagram, on and on. Jenkins-Reid is an automatic-read author for many people, so this book was destined for bestsellerdom. But for me, Jenkins-Reid has been a bit of a mixed bag – I’ve liked some of her books more than others but I never seem to love them as much as other people do (Daisy Jones And The Six, Maybe In

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MALIBU RISING by Taylor Jenkins-Reid

The book of the season has to be Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins-Reid, with its azure ocean blue cover (with surfboards!) and its breezy early 80s California setting. It has been everywhere this summer – BOTM, Read With Jenna, Instagram, on and on. Jenkins-Reid is an automatic-read author for many people, so this book was destined for bestsellerdom. But for me, Jenkins-Reid has been a bit of a mixed bag – I’ve liked some of

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THE LESS PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT US by Axton Betz-Hamilton

The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery Of Betrayal, Family Secrets and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton is exactly that: a memoir about how identity theft destroyed the foundation of a family in small-town Indiana, with far-reaching implications for all aspects of the author’s life. It’s not a light or fun read, for sure, but I found it engrossing and disturbing. Why I picked it up: I have no idea where I learned about

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THAT SUMMER by Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner must want to be known as a queen of the summer novel, given that the last two books she wrote – Big Summer and That Summer – were released in May 2020 and May 2021 , respectively, and take place on Cape Cod during the summer. But unlike Big Summer, a propulsive but inconsistent friendship novel that took an unfortunate path into mystery territory, Last Summer is deeper and has a lot more

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THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD by Alena Dillon

I can’t remember how I learned about The Happiest Girl In The World, Alena Dillon’s novel about a rising gymnastics star and her experience with the U.S. gymnastics program, now known for its abuse of young athletes and decades of covering up. I read about it somewhere and put it on my library hold list, and it came in, and my mood and this book were aligned at the right moment a few weeks ago.

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THE NINE LIVES OF ROSE NAPOLITANO by Donna Freitas

Ooh – finally! My first five-star book of the year! The Nine Lives Of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas is like Sliding Doors on steroids. When Rose and her husband Luke got married, they were on the same page about kids – neither of them wanted to be parents. But over time, Luke changed his mind, and began pressuring Rose to consider getting pregnant. One morning, they have a fight because Luke discovers that Rose

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THE HEIGHTS by Kate Ascher

Last year, I read a book called The Works: Anatomy Of A City by Kate Ascher (reviewed here), which is an exploration of the systems and infrastructure that keep New York City going. I have always been fascinated by how cities work, and Ascher, a professor of urban development at Columbia, takes complicated things like traffic control and the electrical grid and makes them accessible to regular readers. I thoroughly enjoyed The Works, so when

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THE BEAUTY IN BREAKING by Michele Harper

The Beauty In Breaking is a memoir by Michele Harper about her life as a Black female emergency medicine doctor. She grew up with an abusive father in Washington, DC, managed to overcome the chaos and stress of her upbringing, and went to Harvard and then on to medical school. Her short marriage ended in divorce just as she began her career as an ER doctor in central Philadelphia. The Beauty In Breaking mostly covers

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HOW LUCKY by Will Leitch

Will Leitch’s new novel How Lucky is about a man in his 20s named Daniel who has SMA (spinal muscular atrophy), which causes the deterioration of muscles over time and, usually, death within a decade or two of onset. Daniel, who has beat the odds just by being alive at his age, can only move one hand and his mouth, barely, but lives by himself in an apartment in Athens, GA thanks to a revolving

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GOOD COMPANY by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s novel The Nest, which came out in 2016, featured a family with four siblings each angling to get at an inheritance they have been depending on, but which has disappeared (review here). It’s a relatively light novel that takes on parenting, relationships, publishing and New York, but by the end of the book, you’ve grown to care about the characters and wish them well in getting out of their predicaments. Her next

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BRAT: AN 80s STORY by Andrew McCarthy

The pandemic has made us nostalgic. Whether it’s the Friends reunion, an impulse to bake family recipes or TikTok sensation Whitey singing 80s ballads to middle-aged moms, it’s all about a desire to conjure happier memories during a time when we aren’t making new memories (or wanting to remember what we’re living through). Andrew McCarthy’s new memoir Brat: An 80s Story hit at just the right time, aimed at stressed-out Gen Xers eager to revisit

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME by Laura Dave

When The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave came out earlier this month, I had a serious case of FOMO. I kept seeing it everywhere and hearing all the raves, and I wanted to get my hands on it ASAP. Thankfully, a kind friend read it and passed it on to me, so I was able to satisfy my curiosity quickly. It’s the story of a newly married wife, Hannah, whose husband Owen

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THE ENSEMBLE by Aja Gabel

I was drawn to Aja Gabel’s novel The Ensemble because I liked the premise: four people spend decades together as members of a string quartet, bridging San Francisco and New York and back to San Francisco, spanning life events like marriages and parenthood, knowing each other more intimately than spouses thanks to the intensity caused by proximity and interdependence. And for the most part, that’s what I got from it, though it was not quite

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WHAT COMES AFTER by Joanne Tompkins

What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins is a propulsive character-driven novel that also includes a murder-suicide mystery. When this debut novel opens, we learn that two high school boys – Daniel and Jonah – are dead, and that Jonah killed Daniel in an uncharacteristic fit of violence. Daniel’s father Isaac and Jonah’s mother Lorrie, next door neighbors, are trying to navigate their own painful interactions and move on from the tragedy. A pregnant teenager, Evangeline,

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GOOD NEIGHBORS by Sarah Langan

Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan is a suburban gothic, vaguely apocalyptic novel set in the near future in Long Island. During a blazing hot summer, a sinkhole opens up in a park across a crescent-shaped street with 20 or so families. The sinkhole’s appearance coincides with rising neighborhood tensions and the leveling of accusations of sexual assault against the husband of one family on the block. Over the course of the summer, the sinkhole will

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OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN by R. J. Hoffmann

You know how with some books, when you open the first page, you have an immediate sense of dread? Like you just know that you’re in for a tortured ride that may or, more importantly, may not end well? That’s what happened to me with Other People’s Children, a debut novel by R. J. Hoffman. It’s about three women – Carli, a pregnant teenager; Marla, her abusive mother; and Gail, an infertile wife – all

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