New Fiction books

“The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store” by James McBride delves into the secrets and histories of a small neighborhood in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The story is centered around the mystery of skeletal remains discovered at the bottom of a well during the construction of a new development. Who the skeleton was and how it got there are just a few of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of 1920s-era Chicken Hill, a historically Black and immigrant Jewish neighborhood. As the truth about Chicken Hill’s past and the role of the town’s white establishment come to the surface, McBride underscores the strength found in community even in the darkest of times.

“The Guest” by Emma Cline takes place over five days as summer draws to a close in a wealthy neighborhood of vacation homes in Long Island. After a social blunder at a dinner party, the main character, Alex, finds herself coldly dismissed by the older affluent man she had been staying with. With only a little stolen money and a damaged phone to her name, Alex must rely on her talent for manipulating other’s desires to survive. She remains on Long Island where she masterfully interweaves herself into the exclusive worlds of the ultra-rich while her delusion about reconciling with the older man spirals. The story becomes more desperate as Alex drifts from place to place, character to character, leaving a trail of disruption behind her.

“Romantic Comedy” by Curtis Sittenfeld plays with the tropes of modern love and gender dynamics as an actual romantic story unfolds. Sally Milz is a career focused sketch writer for “The Night Owls” (based on “Saturday Night Live”) and swears off relationships for casual encounters. In response to her coworker Danny’s latest fling, Sally writes a sketch that calls out the societal trend of beautiful famous women dating average-looking men. When the handsome pop star Noah Brewster shows up as that week’s TNO guest host, sparks fly. As the relationship ebbs and flows, Sally begins to question everything she thinks she knows about love and romance.

“Pineapple Street” by Jenny Jackson explores the dynamics of family relationships, class constructs, and the meaning of love among New York’s elite. The Stockton family lives a very comfortable life in Brooklyn Heights, thanks to two generations of real estate investments, where the children are navigating adulthood. Darley Stockton finds her life unraveling after relinquishing both her inheritance and career in favor of motherhood. Sasha Stockton marries into the family and offers an “outsider” look into the customs of wealthy WASP culture. The youngest of the family, Georgiana, is entangled in a forbidden love affair that leads to tragedy, forcing her to confront her identity and path in life. This escapist read offers a look into family dynamics and the ever-growing gulf between those who have and those who don’t.

By Melissa Matuscak Alan

Circulation Department Head

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