It’s a problem all avid readers encounter: Too many books, not enough time.
Sadly, book reviewers aren’t exempt from that challenge. Here are seven recent books that we missed, but you shouldn’t.
Call Me Zebra , by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Zebra, legally known as Bibi Abbas Abbas Hosseini, was raised more by books than by humans. A newly minted New York orphan, she finds herself feeling unattached and aimless. So, armed with a notebook and her favorite books, Zebra embarks on a trip across Spain to retrace her family’s escape from Iran during the height of the Iraq War and to pen her own manifesto on literature and life. Upon her arrival in Barcelona, Zebra encounters a man who attracts her physically but repulses her intellectually.
Daphne , by Will Boast (Liveright)
While reading a particularly emotional passage from “The Mayor of Casterbridge,” 13-year-old Daphne finds herself paralyzed. Initially, she assumes it’s merely growing pains, but then she realizes it’s not going away: Emotion throws her into a paralysis. To lessen the frequency of these anxiety attacks, Daphne isolates herself. But then she meets Ollie and must choose between sticking to a life devoid of emotion or taking a chance on love. This modern retelling of the Greek myth of Daphne and Apollo also sports one of the season’s most gorgeous covers.
Freshwater , by Akwaeke Emezi (Grove)
Ever since she was a child in Nigeria, Ada has been plagued by an evil spirit who torments her with various personalities that shape her actions and thoughts. The most unpredictable of these voices, Asughara, plagues Ada’s mind after she’s raped in college. Told through the viewpoints of the various personalities that overtake Ada’s life, “Freshwater” draws from the author’s experiences in Nigeria and the United States.
Our Lady of the Prairie , by Thisbe Nissen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
When theater professor Phillipa Maakestad sees her co-worker Lucius Bocelli, she instantly wants to sleep with him. What follows in this comic novel is a whirlwind that disrupts Phillipa’s relatively calm life. Perhaps she shouldn’t have told her husband about Lucius, but she’s got other problems, too. Her unhappy mother-in-law might be a Nazi collaborator, and a tornado touches down on her daughter’s wedding day. Add to that a presidential election that might not go in favor of Phillipa’s liberal ideals.
The Rending and the Nest , by Kaethe Schwehn (Bloomsbury)
Life seems as normal as it can be in a post-apocalyptic world where 95 percent of the population has disappeared, but then Mira’s best friend, Lana, becomes the first pregnant woman in Zion and gives birth to an inanimate object. As they grapple with the meaning and existence of these “babies,” an outsider preaches about a far-away place where society resembles their previous life. Lana succumbs to those sermons and runs away. Expecting a baby of her own, Mira embarks on a mission to find Lana, but in the process learns the truth about herself and the world around her.
Sadness Is a White Bird , by Moriel Rothman-Zecher (Atria)
Jonathan was raised on stories of his ancestors’ suffering, and his grandfather witnessed the establishment of Israel, so he feels ready to serve in the Israeli army. But Jonathan’s allegiance wavers when he befriends two Palestinians.
The Unmade World , by Steve Yarbrough (Unbridled)
American journalist Richard Brennan and Polish businessman Bogdan Baranowski find their lives forever altered after Baranowski crashes into Brennan’s car and leaves him a widower. Brennan’s ambition fades as he copes with the loss of his wife and daughter, while Baranowski turns to the bottle to quiet his guilt. Yarbrough explores regret and loss against the backdrop of our topsy-turvy political era.
Nicole Y. Chung is the office manager of Book World at The Washington Post.