William Kent Krueger (Atria Books)
The prequel to Krueger’s Cork O’Connor mystery series, Lightning Strike introduces 12-year-old Cork as he discovers the body of an acquaintance hanging from a tree. Cork shadows his father, sheriff Liam O’Connor, as Liam investigates whether the hanging was suicide or murder. He witnesses the locals mistreat his Irish father for marrying an Ojibwe woman from the reservation and hears insults directed toward her people, revelations that shatter his innocence. Lightning Strike depicts the elusiveness of justice and truth in a broken world populated by complex people.
Erin Bartels (Revell)
In Bartels’s lyrical novel, novelist Kendra Brennan retreats to her family lake cottage after receiving a letter from a disgruntled reader. The letter accuses Kendra of not understanding the backstory of her fictional antagonists, throwing her into serious writer’s block before her second novel’s deadline. Kendra’s efforts to uncover truths from the past raise questions about the complexity of forgiving those who wound us. With its thought-provoking storyline, The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water addresses the fine line between being the wounded and being the one who wounds.
Daniel Nayeri (Levine Querido)
In Nayeri’s biographical novel, readers meet a 12-year-old Iranian refugee, Khosrou, who resettles in Oklahoma, going by the name Daniel. Secret police in Iran had threatened his family after his courageous mother converted to Christianity and refused to stop talking about Jesus. Stuck in an inhospitable school environment, Daniel tries connecting with his classmates by weaving together layered stories about Persian history and his own life’s funny and traumatic moments. While Daniel’s storytelling keeps his past alive in his young mind, the novel deftly portrays the loss and searing pain associated with leaving one’s homeland and living as a misunderstood refugee.
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