“Gossip,” by Beth Gutcheon (William Morrow, $14.99)
Miss Pratt’s, another exclusive single-sex school, serves as the starting point for this sharp and poignant novel about the triangle of friendship between scholarship student Loviah French, and the more privileged Dinah and Avis. Combining art world glamour, Upper East Side mores, big secrets and steady patter about what to wear, this novel is far more stylish than its shapeless title.
“The Distance Between Us,” by Reyna Grande (Washington Square Press, $15)
For eight years, Reyna Grande dreams of being reunited with her parents, who have left their children with abusive grandparents in rural Mexico so they can set down roots for a better life in America. But their eventual reunion is no happy ending in this affecting memoir about the Mexican immigrant experience and the author’s search for home.
“The Lost Saints of Tennessee,” by Amy Franklin-Willis (Grove Press, $15)
RC Colas and Moon Pies permeate this very Southern debut novel, which sees Ezekiel Cooper’s suicide plans sidetracked on a trip from Clayton, Tenn., to Virginia horse country. Burdened by the drowning death of his fraternal twin, divorced from his wife and estranged from his daughters, there’s a pleasing “Prince of Tides” quality to Zeke’s midlife turnaround.
“American Ghost,” by Janis Owens (Scribner, $16)
Hendrix, Fla., is a town of “listing cracker dog trots and trailers” where the giant oak tree in the square is missing a limb — the result of an infamous 1930s lynching. The crime has painful ripple effects six decades later for Jolie Hoyt, daughter of the town’s Pentecostal preacher, and a graduate student named Sam, who may be investigating more than he lets on.
“That Deadman Dance,” by Kim Scott (Bloomsbury, $17)
The “friendly frontier” of western Australia is the setting for this award-winning novel that explores the intersection between the Noongar people and the European settlers who soon alter the aboriginal landscape. Jumping through time, much of the story is told through the eyes of Bobby Wabalanginy, a welcoming third culture kid who comes to see that the cultural exchange of colonization works in only one direction: “We learned your words and songs and stories, and never knew you didn’t want ours. ”
“Seven Locks,” by Christine Wade (Atria Books, $15)
When her wastrel husband sets off in a huff and never returns from the wilderness around their Hudson River Valley farm, the narrator in this debut novel has to make her way with two young children and townspeople convinced she had a sinister hand in his disappearance. Set against the backdrop of the Revolutionary War, this compelling historical novel takes its inspiration from a sleepy Washington Irving tale.