The Bossy Bookworm
Six More of My Favorite Fiction Reads from the Past Year
Six More Favorite Fiction Reads
I listed Six of My Favorite Fiction Reads from Last Year in this Greedy Reading List. In today's post I highlight six more of my favorite fiction reads from last year. I read and loved so many books in the past year, I can't resist more more more roundups of my favorites.
At this point you might be asking: Will I spend a whole year of Fridays reliving the glory days of my past year of reading? Well, maybe!
I also recently posted about:
Six Four-Star (And Up) Science Fiction Reads I Loved Last Year, and
And check out My Very Favorite Bossy 2022 Reads for my overall favorite reads from last year.
If you've read any of the books mentioned here, I'd love to hear what you think!
I'd also love to hear about some of your favorite fiction reads, from last year or from this one so far.
01 True Biz by Sara Nović
True Biz is a coming-of-age story, a beginner's primer on Deaf culture, and a captivating novel about romance, disappointment, fury, and loyalty. I happily read it in one sitting.
Students at the residential River Valley School for the Deaf are trying to get through finals, maintain teenage crushes on each other, and make the most of living out from under their parents' roofs.
But the hearing headmistress February (a CODA--a child of deaf adults), the rebellious new transfer student who doesn't know ASL, Charlie, and teacher's pet (and Deaf royalty in the area) Austin find that their pasts, current struggles, and priorities link them together in unexpected ways.
True Biz is a coming-of-age story that also explores the importance society places on language; past and present political and social pushes concerning American Sign Language, cochlear implants, and Deaf culture; and above all, the essential role of community.
The ASL-focused illustrations and information could have been dry but were illuminating instead. I learned about Deaf history, culture, and the politics that have disrupted and damaged those in the Deaf community while immersing myself in True Biz.
True Biz was fascinating, and I devoured it in one sitting. Click here for my full review of True Biz.
02 Doctors and Friends by Kimmery Martin
Through various doctors' and medical experts' points of view, Martin paints a picture of a worldwide pandemic, crises and impossible situations, and powerful, sustaining friendships.
Kimmery Martin's Doctors and Friends begins with a group of seven women, friends since medical school, reuniting in Spain.
But as they catch up on each other's careers and personal lives, explore, eat, drink, and celebrate, a global pandemic begins to take shape.
I was hooked on the medical details and the behind-the-scenes medical experiences of the experts. The various ways Martin made the pandemic feel personal to the story--as with the account of Patient Zero's experience and his two degrees of separation from the main characters--added to the urgent feeling.
Doctors and Friends was written before the Covid-19 pandemic and published in the fall of 2021. In her author's note, Martin explains her extensive research into pandemics, and clarifies that her experiences with the real-life pandemic shaped only minor edits to her story (for example, she added Zoom as a meeting structure).
For my full review, check out Doctors and Friends.
03 This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
This Time Tomorrow was also one of my overall Very Favorite Bossy 2022 Reads.
Straub offers a story that plays with time, explores sentimental moments, offers do-overs, and sweeps the reader into a love-filled, hopeful heartbreaker of a tale.
On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s job, apartment, and love life are solidly okay. The only dark spot in her life is her father’s grave illness.
When she wakes up the next morning...it’s her 16th birthday again. And it isn't just that being in her teen body again shocks her, or that seeing her high school crush is jarring. It's incredible to see her healthy, vital, young dad.
I am a huuuuuuge fan of books that play with time, and Straub offers up all the best parts of a time-travel book in This Time Tomorrow.
This Time Tomorrow indulged my own personal desire for sentimentality, while also emphasizing the value of cutting to the heart of a situation without wasting time. The story offers up lots of loving moments as well as perfectly imperfect decisions and mistakes. The story is heartbreaking and lovely in its ultimate insistence that one must let go of the past.
If you like books that play with time, you might also enjoy the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories.
Click here for my full review of This Time Tomorrow.
04 Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout
In Lucy by the Sea, familiar Strout characters Lucy Barton and her ex-husband William flee New York City for rural Maine during the Covid-19 pandemic. The novel offers introspection, vulnerability, and new beginnings.
But despite her insecurities and what sometimes feels like fragility, Lucy is often able to see the difficult truth in situations and face them with stolid resolve. She alludes to her difficult childhood circumstances (which are more fully explored in My Name Is Lucy Barton), and we see that her lifelong ability to cope with despair and grim events serve her well in her current circumstances.
The nearby ocean is a haunting presence but also a steady, everchanging comfort to Lucy. To her surprise, she begins to notice and respond to the wonders of the light, the weather, the air, and the changing scenery of her daily walks in beautiful and immersive passages in the book.
Strout takes us into the heart of a stressful, unusual pandemic situation in which Lucy and William, longtime friends and ex-spouses, live in intimate solitude together, wondering about and worrying about their daughters, each other, themselves, and the world.
In order to feel the full weight of this book, I think it's important to first read Strout's My Name Is Lucy Barton. Lucy's creation of an imaginary, supportive mother and her loving responses to and comfort for Lucy in this book absolutely broke my heart. Oh William! is another Strout book linked to this story, but I didn't respond to that one as much as Lucy Barton or Lucy by the Sea.
For my full review, check out Lucy by the Sea.
05 Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi
This peek into a childhood in Kabul and a lifetime of searching and yearning is luminous and vivid in Hashimi's hands.
Young Sitara is living a comfortable life in Kabul in 1978. Her father has a prominent position in the government, and the family has plenty of love and laughter.
But when the military soldiers she's always known turn against those in charge, the men stop protecting her family and help enact a bloody massacre that sweeps up much of the current government administration and their families.
Sparks Like Stars follows Sitara through unlikely alliances, a desperate plan to escape her fiery homeland, and a life with twists and turns that ultimately lead her back to the beginning of it all.
Hashimi's storytelling is luminous. She sets the scene in Kabul with the vivid sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the past that reemerge in Sitara's memories and her subconscious, and she explores Sitara's complicated, ongoing, conflicting feelings of survivor's guilt.
For my full review, check out Sparks Like Stars.
06 The Impossible Destiny of Cutie Grackle by Shawn K. Stout
Stout's middle-grade story is irresistibly strange, full of difficulties and a tough young heroine's gritty problem-solving, and largely about believing in the impossible and never losing heart.
Cutie Grackle lives in a cabin in the Appalachian Mountains with her dim-witted, muttering Uncle Horace. She's used to being hungry, to sucking on pebbles to trick her stomach into thinking it's getting food, and to relying on a couple of trusted outsiders for help when necessary.
After an encounter with a fortune-cookie message and a flock of ravens who seem to be following her, Cutie begins to believe that the curse Uncle Horace keeps mumbling about might be real--and that it might have been connected to the deaths of her parents.
As the ravens begin to bring Cutie objects that seem to be linked to a bigger message and mission, she wonders: could identifying and lifting the curse offer answers--and could it even change the trajectory of her tough young life?
The Impossible Destiny of Cutie Grackle is a mountain adventure story that offers magical realism with an edge. Shawn K. Stout's novel is full of heartbreak and hope and is irresistibly unexpected.
Click here for my full review of this book. I listed Cutie Grackle in the Greedy Reading List The Bossy Five-Star Reads So Far This Year.