Hello, fellow readers! How are you handling the holidays so far? I’m happy because the house is decorated, my shopping and shipping are finished. Now if only compiling my list of favorites from 2017 was as easy to manage.
I really struggled with Monday’s choices, but thankfully today is a bit better. I couldn’t come up with ten best debut novels but I did have eight that were 4.5 or 5 stars and only one of those is from a previous year. So, not too bad.
The Best Debut No One Knew About
Dead Letters: I don’t even remember how I got my hands on this book, but I wasn’t even a third of the way into this twisted mystery before I was yelling at every blogger I knew to READ. IT. Caite Dolan-Leach works tension like a virtuoso. Highly recommended. My review
The Debut from an Already Well-Known Author
Lincoln in the Bardo: OK, I’m sure there are people who would have trouble conceding this is a debut because George Saunders is famous for his outstanding short stories. But short story authors don’t always transition into longer works. Saunders has no problem in one of the most highly inventive, unique novels I read all year. It’s Abraham Lincoln, a plentiful cast of dead people, and a cemetery and it’s brilliant. My Review
The Saddest Humorous Debut
Goodbye, Vitamin: Someone known for their intellect dying of Alzheimers is tragic, but in Rachel Khong’s hands, as the family comes together to try and help, there is warmth and the kind of snarky humor that only comes from long and deep relationships. So much ground is covered so well. My Review
The Most Difficult to Read Debut
Girlchild: This was also the only debut on my list from a previous year, but it is a standout despite being tough to read at times. Rory is a 7-year-old living in a trailer park with a mother doing her best but not around much—which means things can get bad. But Rory is a white hot fighter who won’t be stopped and I was with her all the way. My Review
The Futuristic Debut
The Takedown: I loved this YA novel because it takes one of the most overworked tropes—the mean girl—and turns it inside out. That the novel also deals with technology in the near future and how very wrong it can go meant that I tore through this book in an afternoon. My Review
The Debut That Made Me Hungry
Feast of Sorrow: Set in ancient Rome and based on the man believed to have compiled the world’s first cookbook and started the first culinary school. A succulent story complemented by highly unusual and decadent food, this is reading that satisfies. My Review
The Mystery Debut Where the Dead Girl was the Least Important Character
Girl in Snow: Whew, I hope that heading gives you what you need to know because I used up most of my words. It’s sad that Lucinda is dead, but it’s three people around her, with small, quiet lives, who interest author Danya Kukafka. My Review
The Mystery Debut Where You Already Know Who Did It
If We Were Villains: I won’t say it, but author M.L. Rio lets you know who killed who almost right away. Then she gets to what really matters. Like Girl in Snow I appreciated this innovative twist in a mystery. Plus, Shakespeare and theater—what’s not to love?! My Review
The Surprise! Stealth Debut Novel
Talk about sneaking in at the wire! I had this post ready to go, graphic completed and then read Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. BAM, list exploded. OK, maybe not that extreme but certainly another fabulous debut added. My review will follow later but this YA novel about a young black woman who witnesses a friend being shot by a cop is something everyone needs to be reading now.