Breaking Ground: Debut Novels

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The People of Forever Are Not Afraid: A Novel
Shani Boianjiu

BOIANJIU

This coming-of-age story follows the lives of three Israeli girls who join the Israeli Defense Forces when they turn 18 and deal with gossip and flirting along with the threat of constant danger and intense military training.


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Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel
Carol Rifka Brunt

BRUNT

Her world upended by the death of a beloved artist uncle who was the only person who understood her, 14-year-old June is mailed a teapot by her uncle’s grieving friend, with whom June forges a poignant relationship.


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Once Upon a River: A Novel
Bonnie Jo Campbell

CAMPBELL

Margo Crane, a beautiful and uncanny markswoman, takes to the Stark River after being complicit in the death of her father and embarks on an odyssey in search of her vanished mother.


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The Orchardist: A Novel
Amanda Coplin

COPLIN

When two feral girls—one of them very pregnant—appear on his homestead, solitary orchardist Talmadge, who carefully tends the grove of fruit trees he has cultivated for nearly half a century, vows to save and protect them.


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The Language of Flowers: A Novel
Vanessa Diffenbaugh

DIFFENBAUGH

Discovering the symbolic meanings of flowers while languishing in the foster-care system, 18-year-old Victoria is hired by a florist when her talent for helping others is discovered, a situation that leads to a romantic prospect and the confrontation of a painful secret from her past.


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The Art of Fielding: A Novel
Chad Harbach

HARBACH

A baseball star at a small college near Lake Michigan launches a routine throw that goes disastrously off course and inadvertently changes the lives of five people, including the college president, a gay teammate and the president’s daughter.


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Ten Thousand Saints: A Novel
Eleanor Henderson

HENDERSON

When his best friend Teddy dies of an overdose on the last day of 1987, Jude Keffy-Horn finds his relationship with drugs and his parents devolving into the extreme when he gets caught up in an underground youth culture known as straight edge.


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The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)
Ayana Mathis

MATHIS

Traces the story of Great Migration-era mother Hattie Shepherd, who in spite of poverty and a dysfunctional husband uses love and Southern remedies to raise nine children and prepare them for the realities of a harsh world.


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Shine Shine Shine
Lydia Netzer

NETZER

When fabricated aspects of their picture-perfect world are embarrassingly exposed by a car accident, Sunny Mann, a woman longing for an ideal life, and Maxon, her savant astronaut husband, struggle through blame and fear before confronting realities about their deep bond.


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The Tiger's Wife: A Novel
Tea Obreht

OBREHT

Remembering childhood stories her grandfather once told her, young physician Natalia becomes convinced that he spent his last days searching for “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal. As Natalia struggles to understand why her grandfather, a deeply rational man would go on such a farfetched journey, she stumbles across a clue that leads her to the extraordinary story of the tiger’s wife.


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Seating Arrangements
Maggie Shipstead

SHIPSTEAD

Possessing a Harvard education and all of the accoutrements of a privileged life, Winn Van Meter attends the wedding of his eldest daughter, which is marked by the bride’s advancing pregnancy, her sister’s broken heart, and the seductive machinations of wedding party members.


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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
Robin Sloan

SLOAN

After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret.


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The Light Between Oceans: A Novel
M.L. Stedman

STEDMAN

Moving his young bride to an isolated lighthouse home on Australia’s Janus Rock where the couple suffers miscarriages and a stillbirth, Tom allows his wife to claim an infant that has washed up on the shore, a decision with devastating consequences.


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We the Animals
Justin Torres

TORRES

The Brooklyn childhoods of three brothers are marked by their parents’ volatile passions and their own destructive antics, in the story of a chaotic family that explores the ways in which a youth’s coming-of-age profoundly shapes his world view.


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Rules of Civility: A Novel
Amor Towles

TOWLES

A chance encounter with a handsome banker in a Greenwich Village jazz bar on New Year’s Eve 1938 catapults witty Wall Street secretary Katey Kontent into the upper echelons of New York society, where she befriends a shy multi-millionaire, an Upper East Side ne’er-do-well and a single-minded widow.


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The Age of Miracles: A Novel
Karen Thompson Walker

WALKER

Imagines the coming-of-age story of young Julia, whose world is thrown into upheaval when it is discovered that the Earth’s rotation has suddenly begun to slow, posing a catastrophic threat to all life.


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