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THE PEOPLE WE KEEP by Allison Larkin

Ok, another unpopular opinion to follow… The People We Keep by Allison Larkin is about a teenager named April who lives in upstate New York in an old motor home. Her mom abandoned her and her father, who lives nearby with a new woman and her young son, comes by the motor home every now and again but has basically left April on her own. A singer/guitarist, April is not interested in school and has outgrown her high school boyfriend, who is planning their future together. After a particularly heated fight with her father, April steals his car and takes

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THE PEOPLE WE KEEP by Allison Larkin

Ok, another unpopular opinion to follow… The People We Keep by Allison Larkin is about a teenager named April who lives in upstate New York in an old motor home. Her mom abandoned her and her father, who lives nearby with a new woman and her young son, comes by the motor home every now and again but has basically left April on her own. A singer/guitarist, April is not interested in school and has

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WE ARE THE BRENNANS by Tracey Lange

After a really strong reading month in August, September has been a lot weaker. I’ve picked up a few BOTM picks that I’ve been pretty meh about. The first was We Are The Brennans by Tracey Lange. It sounded like a book I would like – a family drama full of siblings and secrets. But it fell short for me in the end, in large part because the author spent more time telling me what

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THIS LIFE by Quntos KunQuest

Amidst the hubbub this week around big new September releases, I finished a book that’s unlikely to attract nearly as much attention, but should. It’s called This Life by Quntos KunQuest, and it’s a debut novel from an author who is currently incarcerated at Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana. This Life follows a newly imprisoned man named Lil’ Chris as he ages through the system. KunQuest, a poet and a rapper himself, intersperses verse throughout the

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THE PLOT by Jean Hanff Korelitz

You guys, this book. The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz came out last spring, and I saw the buzz build for it almost immediately. A friend lent it to me right before my vacation, and I started it on the plane ride home. From that minute on, I could not put it down. Maybe the most addictive book I’ve read all year! The Plot opens with Jake Bonner, an author with one well-reviewed but obscure

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THE IDEA OF YOU by Robinne Lee

I gave into the hype and got The Idea Of You by Robinne Lee from the library for my recent vacation. This book has been around for a few years but I still see it everywhere, and it has a lot of ardent fans. For the unaware, it’s what my daughter calls “Harry Styles fanfic”: the story of a 39 year-old woman named Soléne who accompanies her tween to a meet and greet for her

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THE PAPER PALACE by Miranda Cowley Heller

I was really excited to read The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller, a book I picked up earlier this summer, because so many people I know had highly recommended it. It’s a story told in flashbacks about a woman named Elle whose family owns a ramshackle compound in Cape Cod where she has always spent her summers. In the present day, she has just slept with her best friend, Jonas, while their respective spouses

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EARLY MORNING RISER by Katherine Heiny

I went into Katherine Heiny’s Early Morning Riser knowing that it had gotten a mixed reception when it came out earlier this summer. Not really a surprise – I myself have had mixed success with Heiny’s earlier books. I loved her collection of stories, Single, Carefree, Mellow, which I found entertaining and very perceptive about relationships. I wasn’t as crazy about her second book, Standard Deviation, which had some over-the-top characters and implausible pairings and

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WHAT COULD BE SAVED by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz

Second five star book of the year! I’ve had What Could Be Saved by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz checked out of the library for a while. I tried it a month or two ago and it didn’t grab me right away. But with the pressure of my book club meeting a few days from now, I picked it back up about a week ago and – wow! – it sucked me in. After a slow start,

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GOD SPARE THE GIRLS by Kelsey McKinney

God Spare The Girls, a debut novel from Kelsey McKinney, is about loyalty, power and faith among a Texas family. Luke Nolan is an evangelical paster whose wife Ruthie and daughters Abigail and Carolinenhave always fallen in line around him, supporting his role as the leader of their congregation and serving as perfect examples of dutiful, Christian women. But the seams are starting to show signs of stress; Caroline and Abigail have moved out of

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ALL TOGETHER NOW by Matthew Norman

All Together Now by Matthew Norman is a twist on the usual four-best-friends-from-high-school novel: Robbie, a gazillionaire, has summoned Wade, Blair and Cat to his fancy beach house in Delaware because he is dying (not a spoiler) and he needs to tell them. In their late thirties, none of them are living the life they expected. Cat has just been broken up with; Blair is frustrated with her inattentive husband and her stalled art career;

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WAYWARD by Dana Spiotta

Dana Spiotta’s latest novel, Wayward, addresses midlife female rage in all of its passionate, irrational glory, taking the reader down an inconsistent yet often brilliant path that is likely to inspire a wide range of responses. Sam, a woman in her early 50s in Syracuse, NY, on a whim buys a dilapidated but classic old home in a downtown neighborhood. She informs her husband and daughter that she is moving out of their comfortable suburban

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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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