Jenn Lawrence picks the hottest titles in hardcover for July.
The Sandcastle Girls
by Chris Bohjalian
Elizabeth Endicott is a young woman in 1915, volunteering her time to deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. Frankly, she has very little experience, just a bit of training in nursing skills and a rudimentary understanding of the language. She meets Armen, an engineer who has lost his daughter and wife. Romantic feelings brew and, after Armen leaves to join the British army, desperate to make a difference, he learns he has fallen in love with this American woman. Moving forward to present day, Laura Petrosian is a journalist living in New York. Never really paying attention to her Armenian heritage, her interest in her family’s history is instantly awakened after receiving a phone call from a friend. A photo, supposedly of Laura’s grandmother, is in an exhibit in a Boston museum. This discovery unveils a history of which Laura was unaware and a heartbreaking secret buried all this time. A emotional love story, the author’s homage to his own heritage. Guaranteed to sweep you away this hot summer!
by Chris Cleave
Kate and Zoe first meet when they are 19 years old, both making the cut for a national training program for track cycling, a sport that requires an extreme amount of dedication and skill. The woman are now 32 and competing for the gold in the 2012 Olympics. Both are desperate to win the medal and have a lot to lose, more emotional than materialistic in nature. Kate’s 8-year-old daughter, Sophie, is battling a recurring case of leukemia that nearly killed her just a few years ago. Sophie wants her mother to have the chance to work for her dream, but day after day the disease takes a toll on her young and weak body. Zoe, on the other hand, has yet to find companionship of any nature. Her obsession and need to win is so strong and severe that she’s willing to risk everything, even her long friendship with Kate, to win. A truly brilliant novel that examines individuals when they are at their toughest and finest moments and what they will do to reach the goal. Like an Olympic race, the pacing is brilliant, leaving your heart pounding in your chest until you cross the finish line.
Where We Belong
by Emily Giffin
Marian Caldwell is living her dream in New York City — she’s in a great relationship and has a fulfilling career as a film producer. One night Marian opens the door to find Kirby Rose, an 18-year-old girl who unlocks a past that has remained hidden all these years. Kirby’s appearance threatens to destroy the perfect life Marian has built for herself and an identity that won’t survive the implications of her young love affair. Kirby, too, is forced to reevaluate her life as she knew it. Together, Kirby and Miran embark on a journey to find what has been missing most in their lives, realizing they must trust their hearts, and fate, to determine their final destination.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce
Harold Fry recently retired and lives with his wife, Maureen, in a small English village. His life is far from remarkable, each day running into the next, his wife complaining about every little thing he does. One day he receives a barely legible letter from a woman he hasn’t spoken to in two decades, Queenie Hennessey. Queenie is now living in hospice, writing to Harold to say goodbye. He writes a quick reply, but as he is heading to the mailbox to mail the letter, a chance encounter convinces Harold that he must say goodbye to Queenie in person. He embarks on this urgent mission to walk 600 miles to Queenie and along the way meets a host of fascinating characters who awaken a part of Harold that has remained dormant for years. A stunning debut novel about feelings and thoughts we often bury in time and the importance and value in keeping these dreams alive.
Shine, Shine, Shine
by Lydia Netzer
Maxon and Sunny were 7 years old when they met, bonded by their differences. Twenty years later they are married, and Sunny craves to be normal. She’s a housewife, and Maxon is a genius NASA engineer, on a mission to the moon programming robots for a new colony. This leaves Sunny home alone with their 4-year old autistic son with another child on the way and her mother dying in the hospital. She struggles with the stress of having an autistic son, of doctors wanting to medicate him for one thing or another. Maxon sees bits of himself in their son and doesn’t want to diminish these similarities. The perfect marriage Sunny envisioned with Maxon is crumbling, the life she is living has no semblance of what she dreamed. All she wants is for Maxon to return to Earth. An accident in space turns their world upside down, forcing them to realize and accept that we really don’t have much control of what happens in our lives. Rather than obsessing and worrying over their differences, they must learn to instead embrace and appreciate them. A truly witty, unique debut novel full of truly believable yet out of the ordinary characters.