List: Summer Reads: Coming of Age
Kwon, R. O., author.
A young Korean-American woman at an elite American university is drawn into acts of domestic terrori... More
A young Korean-American woman at an elite American university is drawn into acts of domestic terrorism by a cult tied to North Korea and then disappears, leading a fellow student into an obsessive search for her. Less
Joukhadar, Zeyn, author.
A remarkably moving and lyrical novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked... More
A remarkably moving and lyrical novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked by the truths they carry close to their hearts. Five years after a suspicious fire killed his mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother's ghost has begun to visit him each evening. The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria. One night, he finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that Laila Z's past is intimately tied to his mother's-and his grandmother's--in ways he never could have expected. Even more surprising, Laila Z's story reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his community that he never knew. Following his mother's ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along. Less
Vuong, Ocean, 1988- author.
Ocean Vuong's debut novel is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to... More
Ocean Vuong's debut novel is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born--a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam--and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. Less
Andreades, Daphne Palasi, author.
This remarkable, deeply moving story brings you deep into the hearts and souls of a tight-knit group... More
This remarkable, deeply moving story brings you deep into the hearts and souls of a tight-knit group of friends--girls growing up in Queens, the polyglot borough of New York, where the streets sprawl for miles and echo with voices from all over the world, and the scent of bubbling oil, chopped garlic, and grilled meats waft through open windows as night comes to the neighborhood. Here Nadira, Mae, Trish, and Aisha become friends for life--or so they vow. Together they learn to survive all that the street throws at them--schoolyard bullies, clueless teachers, and the leering gaze of men who trail behind them wherever they walk. Exuberant and wild, they are daughters of immigrants from different diasporas, but in Queens their backgrounds blur and blend: they sing Mariah Carey at the tops of their lungs, pine for boyfriends who pay them no mind--and break the hearts of those who do--all while balancing the cultures they came from and the one they find themselves in. In small brick houses, their fathers snore on armchairs after long shifts, while mothers command them to be dutiful daughters, obedient young women. But as the years go by, and their own adulthood nears, choices must be made about their futures. Cracks and fissures form as some find themselves drawn to the allure of other skylines, beckoned by lovers and jobs foreign to what they knew back home. Some of the girls become wives and mothers to a new generation of brown girls; while others embark on a migration baffling to the generation before them, journeying back to the countries their parents fled for the 'better life' in America. Less
Askaripour, Mateo, author.
Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, content working at Starbucks in the lobby of ... More
Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother's home-cooked meals. A chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, CEO of Sumwun, NYC's hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor. As the only Black person in the company, Darren reimagines himself as "Buck," a ruthless salesman unrecognizable to his friends and family. When things turn tragic at home, Buck begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America's sales force, setting off a chain of events that changes the game. Less
George, Alex, 1970- author.
For Robert Carter, life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on hi... More
For Robert Carter, life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on his first day of eighth grade, he meets Nathan Tilly, who changes everything. Nathan is confident, fearless, impetuous--and fascinated by kites and flying. Robert and Nathan's budding friendship is forged in the crucible of two family tragedies, and as the boys struggle to come to terms with loss, they take summer jobs at the local rundown amusement park. It's there that Nathan's boundless capacity for optimism threatens to overwhelm them both, and where they learn some harsh truths about family, desire, and revenge. Less
Laskar, Devi S.
On the cusp of her eighteenth birthday, Heera and her best friends, siblings Marie and Marco, tease ... More
On the cusp of her eighteenth birthday, Heera and her best friends, siblings Marie and Marco, tease the fun out of life in Raleigh, North Carolina, with acts of rebellion and delinquency. They paint the town's water towers with red anarchy symbols and hang out at the local bus station to pickpocket money for their Great Escape to New York. But no matter how much Heera defies her strict upbringing, she's always avoided any real danger--until one devastating night changes everything. Less
Bennett, Brit, author.
It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-... More
It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor's son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it's not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance--and the subsequent cover-up--will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt. Less
Bechdel, Alison, 1960- author, illustrator.
A memoir done in the form of a graphic novel by a cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny f... More
A memoir done in the form of a graphic novel by a cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father--a funeral home director, high school English teacher, and closeted homosexual. Less
Batuman, Elif, 1977- author.
The continuation of beloved protagonist Selin's quest for self-knowledge, as she travels abroad... More
The continuation of beloved protagonist Selin's quest for self-knowledge, as she travels abroad and tests the limits of her newfound adulthood Selin is the luckiest person in her family: the only one who was born in America and got to go to Harvard. Now it's sophomore year, 1996, and Selin knows she has to make it count. The first order of business: to figure out the meaning of everything that happened over the summer. Why did Selin's elusive crush, Ivan, find her that job in the Hungarian countryside? What was up with all those other people in the Hungarian countryside? Why is Ivan's weird ex-girlfriend now trying to get in touch with Selin? On the plus side, it feels like the plot of an exciting novel. On the other hand, why do so many novels have crazy abandoned women in them? How does one live a life as interesting as a novel--a life worthy of becoming a novel--without becoming a crazy abandoned woman oneself? Guided by her literature syllabus and by her more worldly and confident peers, Selin reaches certain conclusions about the universal importance of parties, alcohol, and sex, and resolves to execute them in practice--no matter what the cost. Less
Coster, Naima, 1986- author.
When a county initiative in the Piedmont of North Carolina forces the students at a mostly black pu... More
When a county initiative in the Piedmont of North Carolina forces the students at a mostly black public school on the east side to move across town to a nearly all-white high school on the west, the community rises in outrage. For two students, quiet and aloof Gee and headstrong Noelle, these divisions will extend far beyond their schooling. As their paths collide and overlap over the course of thirty years, their two seemingly disconnected families begin to form deeply knotted, messy ties that shape the trajectory of their lives. On one side of the school integration debate is Jade, Gee's steely, single, black mother, grieving for her murdered partner, and determined for her son to have the best chance at a better life. On the other, is Noelle's enterprising mother, Lacey May, who refuses to see her half-Latina daughters as anything but white. The choices these mothers make will resound for years to come. And twenty years later, when Lacey's daughters return home to visit her in hospital, they're forced to confront the ways their parents' decisions continue to affect the life they live and the people they love. Less
Jones, Saeed, author.
Haunted and haunting, Jones's memoir tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South ... More
Haunted and haunting, Jones's memoir tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence--into tumultuous relationships with his mother and grandmother, into passing flings with lovers, friends and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another--and to one another--as we fight to become ourselves. Less
Benjamin, Chloe, author.
It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a myst... More
It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children--four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness--sneak out to hear their fortunes. Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality. The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds. Less
Dugoni, Robert, author.
In 1979, Vincent Bianco has just graduated high school. His only desire: collect a little beer money... More
In 1979, Vincent Bianco has just graduated high school. His only desire: collect a little beer money and enjoy his final summer before college. So he lands a job as a laborer on a construction crew. Working alongside two Vietnam vets, one suffering from PTSD, Vincent gets the education of a lifetime. Now forty years later, with his own son leaving for college, the lessons of that summer--Vincent's last taste of innocence and first taste of real life--dramatically unfold in a novel about breaking away, shaping a life, and seeking one's own destiny. Less
Bump, Gabriel, author.
A darkly funny and heartfelt debut novel about what it means to grow up young and black on the south... More
A darkly funny and heartfelt debut novel about what it means to grow up young and black on the south side of Chicago when it feels like your choices are slim to none. Less
Moreno-Garcia, Silvia, author.
The Mayan God of Death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark fairy ... More
The Mayan God of Death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore. Less
Gilbert, Elizabeth, 1969- author.
Beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction with a unique love story set in the New York Cit... More
Beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction with a unique love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), City of Girls explores themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love. In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads her to a new understanding of the kind of life she craves - and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest. Now eighty-nine years old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life - and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it. Less
Vo, Nghi, author.
Immigrant. Socialite. Magician. Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American... More
Immigrant. Socialite. Magician. Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society--she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She's also queer and Asian, a Vietnamese adoptee treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her. But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how. Less
Greenidge, Kaitlyn, author.
Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson is all too ... More
Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson is all too aware that her mother, a physician, has a vision for their future together: Libertie will go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie feels stifled by her mother's choices and is constantly reminded that, unlike her mother, Libertie has skin that is too dark. When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it--for herself and for generations to come. Less
Sathian, Sanjena, author.
A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is... More
A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is authentic, funny, and smart. He just doesn't share the same drive as everyone around him. His perfect older sister is headed to Duke. His parents' expectations for him are just as high. He tries to want this version of success, but mostly, Neil just wants his neighbor across the cul-de-sac, Anita Dayal. But Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewelry's original owner. Anjali's own mother in Bombay didn't waste the precious potion on her daughter, favoring her sons instead. Anita, on the other hand, just needs a little boost to get into Harvard. But when Neil - who needs a whole lot more - joins in the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart. Ten years later, Neil is an oft-stoned Berkeley history grad student studying the California gold rush. His high school cohort has migrated to Silicon Valley, where he reunites with Anita and resurrects their old habit of gold theft - only now, the stakes are higher. Anita's mother is in trouble, and only gold can save her. Anita and Neil must pull off one last heist. Less
Myers, Adele (Writer), author.
In 1946 North Carolina, seamstress Maddie Sykes, a dressmaker for Bright Leaf's most influentia... More
In 1946 North Carolina, seamstress Maddie Sykes, a dressmaker for Bright Leaf's most influential women--the wives of powerful tobacco executives, uncovers dangerous truths about this lucrative industry in a place where everyone depends on Big Tobacco to survive. Less
Okorafor, Nnedi, author.
Binti, a young Himba girl with the chance of a lifetime: to attend the prestigious Oomza University.... More
Binti, a young Himba girl with the chance of a lifetime: to attend the prestigious Oomza University. Despite her family's concerns, Binti's talent for mathematics and her aptitude with astrolabes make her a prime candidate to undertake this interstellar journey. But everything changes when the jellyfish-like Medusae attack Binti's spaceship, leaving her the only survivor. Now, Binti must fend for herself, alone on a ship full of the beings who murdered her crew, with five days until she reaches her destination. There is more to the history of the Medusae--and their war with the Khoush--than first meets the eye. If Binti is to survive this voyage and save the inhabitants of the unsuspecting planet that houses Oomza Uni, it will take all of her knowledge and talents to broker the peace. Less
Ford, Ashley C., author.
An extraordinarily powerful memoir: the story of a childhood defined by the ever looming absence of ... More
An extraordinarily powerful memoir: the story of a childhood defined by the ever looming absence of her incarcerated father and the path we must take to both honor and overcome our origins. For as long as she could remember, Ashley has put her father on a pedestal. Despite having only vague memories of seeing him face-to-face, she believes he's the only person in the entire world who understands her. She thinks she understands him too. He's sensitive like her, an artist, and maybe even just as afraid of the dark. She's certain that one day they'll be reunited again, and she'll finally feel complete. There are just a few problems: he's in prison, and she doesn't know what he did to end up there. Through poverty, puberty, and a fraught relationship with her mother, Ashley returns to her image of her father for hope and encouragement. She doesn't know how to deal with the incessant worries that keep her up at night, or how to handle the changes in her body that draw unwanted attention from men. In her search for unconditional love, Ashley begins dating a boy her mother hates; when the relationship turns sour, he assaults her. Still reeling from the rape, which she keeps secret from her family, Ashley finally finds out why her father is in prison. And that's where the story really begins. Somebody's Daughter steps into the world of growing up a poor Black girl, exploring how isolating and complex such a childhood can be. As Ashley battles her body and her environment, she provides a poignant coming-of-age recollection that speaks to finding the threads between who you are and what you were born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them. Less
Leilani, Raven, author.
Edie is stumbling her way through her twenties--sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in ... More
Edie is stumbling her way through her twenties--sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She is also haltingly, fitfully giving heat and air to the art that simmers inside her. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage--with rules. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren't hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and invited into Eric's home--though not by Eric. She becomes a hesitant ally to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie may be the only Black woman young Akila knows. Less