When the Moon is Low, by Nadia Hashimi. Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power. This is Hashimi's second novel, following 2014's The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, which was a reader favorite. As with the previous novel, I'm recommending this to book clubs and readers who enjoyed books by Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner, etc.), Lisa See (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, etc.), and Jhumpa Lahiri (The Namesake, etc.).
Bradstreet Gate, by Robin Kirman. Georgia, Charlie and Alice each arrive at Harvard with hopeful visions of what the future will hold. But when, just before graduation, a classmate is found murdered on campus, they find themselves facing a cruel and unanticipated new reality. Moreover, a charismatic professor who has loomed large in their lives is suspected of the crime. Though his guilt or innocence remains uncertain, the unsettling questions raised by the case force the three friends to take a deeper look at their tangled relationship. Their bond has been defined by the secrets they’ve kept from one another—Charlie’s love and Alice’s envy, Georgia’s mysterious affair—and over the course of the next decade, as they grapple with the challenges of adulthood and witness the unraveling of a teacher's once-charmed life, they must reckon with their own deceits and shortcomings, each desperately in search of answers and the chance to be forgiven. Critics are drawing comparisons to beloved authors like Meg Wolitzer (The Uncoupling, The Interestings), Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch) and Jeffrey Eugenides (The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex). All of which is more than enough to have this particular novel at the top of my to-read list this summer.
The Secrets She Keeps, by Deb Caletti. When Callie McBride finds a woman’s phone number written on a scrap of paper her husband has thrown away, she thinks that her marriage is over. Callie flees to Nevada and her Aunt Nash’s Tamarosa Ranch, where she’s shocked to see that the place of so many happy childhood memories is in disrepair. Worse, Aunt Nash is acting bizarrely—hoarding stacks of old photographs, burying a book in the yard, and railing against Kit Covey, a handsome government park ranger who piques Callie’s interest. But Aunt Nash may prove to be saner than she seems once Callie pulls back the curtain on Tamarosa’s heyday—the 1940s and ’50s, when high-society and Hollywood women ventured to the ranch for quickie divorces and found a unique sisterhood—and uncovers a secret promise Nash made to her true love. Fans of authors like Liane Moriarty (Big Little Lies, The Husband's Secret) and Kristin Hannah (The Nightingale, On Mystic Lake) really should be reading Caletti, too.
Pretty Is, by Maggie Mitchell. The summer precocious Lois and pretty Carly May were twelve years old, they were kidnapped, driven across the country, and held in a cabin in the woods for two months by a charismatic stranger. Nearly twenty years later, Lois has become a professor, teaching British literature at a small college in upstate New York, and Carly May is an actress in Los Angeles, drinking too much and struggling to revive her career. When a movie with a shockingly familiar plot draws the two women together once more, they must face the public exposure of their secret history and confront the dark longings and unspeakable truths that haunt them still. If you think you know what's going to happen, count on this debut fiction to turn your expectations on their head. I'm thinking this is a sure thing if you're a reader of authors like Tana French, Chevy Stevens and Becky Masterman. If this is a sleeper hit this summer, I won't say I told you so.
There's a special edition of Meg's Picks coming next Tuesday, so I'll see you then!