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This year saw the publication of a library’s worth of wonderful reads—these are my picks for the 25 that grabbed on and didn’t let go.To an outside observer, intrepid Victorian heroine Faith may seem boring and subservient, but beneath her dull exterior lies a mind bursting with curiosity, intelligence, and passion.It runs on its heroine’s white-hot rage, complicated but never quenched by her love for her gentle younger brother and for Mehmed, the sultan’s heir.Lada must balance her political aspirations, hunger for vengeance, and the desires of her heart to thrive in a brutal, high-intrigue world she has spent her whole life learning to navigate.Her characters are fighting to build good lives amid harsh circumstances—Ruth is an almost-orphan grappling with a terrible secret, Dora is terrified she’ll be forced back under her violent father’s roof, Hank and his brothers have no choice but to escape, and Alyce doesn’t know how to claim her future without losing her past.All take a circuitous path toward finally making the connections they need to survive.
Here there be magnificent debuts, swoony, promise-keeping series finales, and bolts from the blue; books that enchant, provoke, and break hearts.
In this vivid, brainy, deeply feminist tale, Faith uses the tree to spread falsehoods throughout the island on a desperate quest for the truth, using others’ misperceptions of her as cover for her plotting.
(See our full review here.)—the power of human connection, love’s ability to both save and destroy—and expands on them to tell the fast-burning, possibly doomed love story of Daniel, a dreamy Korean American teen on his way to an alumni interview, and Natasha, a girl on a last-minute mission to save her family from deportation to Jamaica.
In her precise and lovely prose, Rutkoski brings them back into each other’s orbit, and carries the war that’s keeping them apart to a deeply satisfying conclusion.
(Also, there’s kissing.) In a vividly evoked 1970s Alaska, Hitchcock sets hardscrabble poverty and domestic violence against a backdrop of transcendent natural beauty.
The two meet in a record store and have an epic stop-and-go romance all stuffed into a single day that might be Natasha’s last in New York.