Debut Novels

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Prep
Curtis Sittenfeld

A small town Indiana girl comes of age at a Boston prep school. In the midst of selfish rich kids and class warfare, can Lee Fiora hold on to her identity? Or does she even know who she is to begin with?

When We Get There
Shauna Seliy

Lucas Lessar has more than his share of problems for a thirteen year old boy. His father dead, his mother has disappeared, and her crazy boyfriend won't leave him alone. All he can do at this point is try to get by, learning the life lessons his extended family has to teach him.

The Ha-Ha
Dave King

Howie Kapostash has been unable to speak, read, or write since a head injury he suffered in Vietnam, but he's still the first person his high school sweetheart Sylvia calls whenever she's in a bind. So when Sylvia needs someone to watch her son Ryan while she goes to rehab for her cocaine apiction, naturally Howie accepts. After all, Ryan's a good kid, if a little troubled, and who knows? Maybe this will be the catalyst that finally gets them back together.

Every Boat Turns South
J. P. White

Noir gets a new voice in this gritty redemption tale. Matt Younger left his parents' Florida home a failure, bearing the blame for the death of favored son Hale. Returning home when he needs time to lay low from a bad drug deal, Matt relates the truth of Hale's death and his own disappearance in an unwelcomed but compelling series of nighttime confessions. A Caribbean setting tourists never see, authentic boating action and Matt's moral ambiguity make for an engrossing read.

The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold

Susie Salmon watches down on her suburban world after her brutal rape and murder at age 14. She sees the changes wrought by her disappearance play out in the lives of family, friends and even the perpetrator. What could be a heavy and depressing story is instead filled with fully fleshed characters who grieve, grow, fight and love, even with Susie's murder as the defining characteristic of their lives. The first person narration provides immediacy and emotional power.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum
Kate Atkinson

Witty and ebullient Ruby Lennox relates the story of her Yorkshire family, starting her narration from her conception in 1951 ("I exist!' she says,) see-sawing in time through two world wars and forward into the 60's. Atkinson's humor is sharp and dead-on the way that only the Brits can do, but the genuine heart underlying Ruby's tale makes a delightful read for anyone who enjoys an original voice

Peace Like a River
Leif Enger

When 12-year-oldReuben's older brother escapes from the Minnesota prison where he is being held for the murder of his girlfriend’s two attackers, it is up to Reuben, his father, and his younger sister Swede to find him before the law does. Their adventure takes them into the badivands of 1960s North Dakota, where miracles abound on their trail, and the resilience of one family's relationship is proven.

The Piano Teacher
Janice K. Lee

Lee's novel juxtaposes two intertwining tales of love, set a decade apart, in the life of British chauffer Will Truesdale. Set in mid-century Hong Kong, the story chronicles his war-time affair with the beautiful Eurasian socialite Trudy Lang and a second liaison ten years later with a young British piano teacher, both relationships fraught with the hardship, passion, and betrayal that accompany love in war.

The Meaning of Night
Michael Cox

Upon the discovery that he may be the rightful heir to a valuable legacy, London bibliophile and photographer Edward Glyver commits a rehearsal murder in preparation for the assassination of his nemesis, recognized inheritor Phoebus Daunt. What he didn’t expect, however, was for his meaningless crime to be witnessed by another. Revenge and wicked twists abound in this Victorian-era novel.

The Monsters of Templeton
Lauren Groff

The day native daughter Wilhelmina Upton comes home to Templeton is the day the monster in its lake dies. Willie discovers she is the daughter of a local man, not the product of her mother's West coast summer of love as she'd been told, and she begins working to uncover his identity. Hunting down diaries, letters, and newspaper articles, she peels back secrets that reveal not just her own life, but the life story of a thinly veiled town in central New York.