Washington Black (Esi Edugyan, Knopf, 9/18). This book blew me away. It begins with an 11 year-old slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, named Wash. He’s chosen by his sadistic master’s brother to become his manservant. The brother takes Wash under his wing and the adventure begins. The question of personal freedom runs through the entire story. I don’t want to reveal too much — it’s a complex and beautifully written story that I could not put down.
Fruit of the Drunken Tree (Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Doubleday, 7/18). A devastating and wonderfully written novel about a privileged young girl, alternating chapters with the story of their live-in maid. Set in Bogota during Escobars’s reign of the guerrilla-occupied city, the story includes threats of kidnappings and assassinations. The contrasts between the two provide a powerful narrative of coming-of-age in the midst of crossfire.
Tin Man (Sarah Winman, Putnam, 5/18). A heartbreaking book about loss, living, love and friendship. Two 12 year-old boys become best friends in Oxford and their twosome expands to three when one of them marries. A tender and emotional story that will move you.
French Exit (Patrick deWitt, Harper Collins, 8/18). A humorous but dark book about an eccentric wealthy widow and her adult son. They flee NY as a scandal and financial ruin descend upon them. They then take off for Paris on a transatlantic voyage. There, they encounter many off beat characters in this “tragedy of manners.”
Three Things About Elsie (Joanna Cannon, Scribner, 8/18). This is a story about 84 year-old Florence waiting to be rescued from a fall. She thinks about her best friend Elsie and a devastating secret they had. A heartfelt book about friendship, aging, and dementia, with suspense added into the mix. A sad but very engaging book.