ON THE SHELF: New Adult Fiction for the start of summer

Published 8:00 am Sunday, May 28, 2023

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week we are featuring more of our New Adult Fiction titles.

The latest from author Kate Morton is called “Homecoming.” It’s Christmas Eve in Adelaide Hills in South Australia. A local man from the small town of Tambilla makes a gruesome discovery at the end of a scorching hot day. The case will haunt the investigators for years. Many years later — and thousands of miles away — Jess is a journalist searching for her next big story. She had worked in London for 20 years, but she now finds herself unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. Jess receives a phone call that summons her back to Sydney where her beloved grandmother has taken a serious fall and is in the hospital. While staying at her grandmother’s house, Jess discovers a true crime book that chronicles the long-buried police case of the Turner Family Tragedy in 1959. As she flips through the book, she finds a shocking connection between her own family and the tragic event. Jess is drawn into an epic mystery that spans generations and she becomes determined to find answers.

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Kiki Swinson delivers an unsparing portrayal of Southern struggles, lies, betrayals and deaths in her latest, “Burning Season.” Alayna Curry is a volunteer Virginia Beach firefighter who faces death every day and is quite proud to continue her retired father’s work. But volunteer firefighting doesn’t pay much, and cash is always tight. Her long-time boyfriend Levi is pressuring Alayna to quit firefighting and find a job that pays more money so she can stay afloat. When she is given an opportunity to make some extra cash, all she has to do is keep quiet about a scheme to burn buildings for insurance-hungry “clients.” For a while, she’s all for making insane cash, but she is also finding a new passion in all the wrong places. When the money stops rolling in because one “client” after another decides they no longer want to honor the deal, Alayna and the rest of her crew stop watching out for one another and start fighting for their lives. With the cops hot on their trail, Alayna must decide if the betrayal, secrets and broken duty are worth burning her own life to the ground.

“Hang The Moon” is the latest from Jeannette Walls. Most people thought that Sallie Kincaid was a nobody who’d amount to nothing, but Sallie herself had other plans. Being born the daughter of the biggest man in a small town, Sallie had a life of comfort and privilege at the turn of the 20th century. All she remembers about her mother, though, is that she died in a violent argument with her father, Duke. By the time she turns eight, Duke has remarried and has a son, Eddie. Sallie is her father’s daughter, quick-witted and resourceful, but Eddie is his mother’s son, timid and heady. When Sallie decides to coach Eddie in the ways of being a daredevil, there is a terrible accident and Sallie is cast out of the family. Life becomes a lot more complicated than she thought it would be and she enters a world of conflict and lawlessness, but she finally comes into her own as a brash, sometimes reckless bootlegger.

Eleanor Catton tells the story of an undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-charitable guerilla gardening collective in her novel “Birnam Wood.” A landslide has closed the Korowai Pass on New Zealand’s South Island cutting off the town of Thorndike and leaving a large farm abandoned. This leaves an opportunity for the Birnam Wood collective. For years, the group has struggled to break even. If they occupy the farm in Thorndike, it will mean solvency at last, but an enigmatic American billionaire Robert Lemoine is interested in the place. He wants to build his end-of-days bunker, or that is what he tells Birnam’s founder Mira when he finds her on the property. He becomes intrigued by Mira and by the Birnam Wood group. Lemoine may be politically the direct polar opposite of the group, but they have enemies in common. Can Birnam Wood trust him? And, when their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust one another?

“The Only Survivors” is by Megan Miranda. Ten years ago, two vans filled with high school seniors who had been on a school service trip crashed into a Tennessee ravine — a terrible tragedy that claimed the lives of many classmates and teachers. Nine students miraculously survived and managed to escape the river only to have their lives irrevocably changed. A year later, one of the survivors commits suicide and the rest make a pact: to come together each year to commemorate that terrible night. They are determined to keep one another safe and to hold one another accountable. Their annual meeting place is a house on the Outer Banks that has long been a refuge. Cassidy Bent has worked hard to distance herself from the tragedy and from the other survivors. As the tenth-anniversary approaches, Cassidy has changed her mobile number, blocked the others’ email addresses, and this year she is determined to completely break ties with the group for good. As the day of the reunion approaches, she receives a text with an attached obituary — another of the survivors is dead. Cassidy finds herself drawn back into the group, but almost immediately, something feels off. Cassidy is the first to notice when Amaya, the annual organizer, slips away because she’s overwhelmed. This wouldn’t be a problem, but there is an impending storm that is predicted to cause flash floods and close roads. When Amaya stops responding to her phone, the survivors wonder if she would intentionally make them worry. Surely not? As they promised long ago; each survivor will do whatever he or she can to save one another. Won’t they?