No Other World by Rahul Mehta
304 p.; India, Fiction
In a rural community in Western New York, twelve-year-old Kiran Shah, the American-born son of Indian immigrants, longingly observes his prototypically American neighbors, the Bells. He attends school with Kelly Bell, but he’s powerfully drawn—in a way he does not yet understand—to her charismatic father, Chris.
Kiran’s yearnings echo his parents’ bewilderment as they try to adjust to a new world. His father, Nishit Shah, a successful doctor, is haunted by thoughts of the brother he left behind. His mother, Shanti, struggles to accept a life with a man she did not choose—her marriage to Nishit was arranged—and her growing attachment to an American man. Kiran is close to his older sister, Preeti—until an unexpected threat and an unfathomable betrayal drive a wedge between them that will reverberate through their lives.
As he leaves childhood behind, Kiran finds himself perpetually on the outside—as an Indian-American torn between two cultures, and as a gay man in a homophobic society. In the wake of an emotional breakdown, he travels to India, where he forms an intense bond with a teenage hijra, a member of India's ancient transgender community. With her help, Kiran begins to pull together the pieces of his broken past.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
464 p.; Young Adult
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor black neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.
Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
352 p.; Fiction
Neurosurgeon Eitan Green has the perfect life--married to a beautiful police officer and father of two young boys. Then, speeding along a deserted moonlit road after an exhausting hospital shift, he hits someone. Seeing that the man, an African migrant, is beyond help, he flees the scene.
When the victim's widow knocks at Eitan's door the next day, holding his wallet and divulging that she knows what happened, Eitan discovers that her price for silence is not money. It is something else entirely, something that will shatter Eitan's safe existence and take him into a world of secrets and lies he could never have anticipated.
Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz
368 p.; S. Korea, Fiction
This debut novel takes place at the elite Seoul National University in 1970s South Korea during the final years of a repressive regime that also spurred an economic transformation for the country. The novel follows the fates of two women—Jisun, the daughter of a powerful tycoon, who eschews her privilege to become an underground labor activist in Seoul; and Namin, her best friend from childhood, a brilliant, tireless girl who has grown up with nothing, and whose singular goal is to launch herself and her family out of poverty.
Drawn to both of these women is Sunam, a seeming social-climber who is at heart a lost boy struggling to find his place in a cutthroat world. And at the edges of their friendship is Juno, whose ambitions have taken him to new heights in the university’s most prestigious social club, called “the Circle,” and yet who guards a dangerous secret that is tied to his status. Wuertz explores the relationships that bind these students to each other, as well as the private anxieties and desires that drive them to succeed.
Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
320 p.; Japan, Fiction
Written in startlingly beautiful prose, Harmless Like You is set across New York, Connecticut, and Berlin, following Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother’s abandonment of him when he was only two years old.
The novel opens when Yuki is sixteen and her father is posted back to Japan. Though she and her family have been living as outsiders in New York City, Yuki opts to stay, intoxicated by her friendship with the beautiful aspiring model Odile, the energy of the city, and her desire to become an artist. But when she becomes involved with an older man and the relationship turns destructive, Yuki’s life is unmoored. Harmless Like You is a suspenseful novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships, and familial bonds that asks—and ultimately answers—how does a mother desert her son?