Meg Bowden

Best-selling author Emily Giffin brings us a new novel about a pair of sisters engaged in classic sibling rivalry—with a twist.

Meredith and Josie Garland couldn’t be more opposite. Josie, a spontaneous, attention-seeking first-grade teacher, is ready to write off men after countless bad dates and a traumatic breakup. Meredith is settled with a husband and four-year-old, and practices law at a notable firm. Years earlier, they experienced an unthinkable tragedy: Their older brother, Daniel, died in a car accident, just three days after his 25th birthday.

The painful loss eventually drove the Garland parents to divorce, and strained the sisters’ bond. Though both live in their hometown of Atlanta, Meredith and Josie only see each other out of necessity or at family gatherings. Both women are finally taking a long, hard look at the lives they’ve created since Daniel’s death, and realizing that neither one knows how they got here.  Ironically, they both want what the other one has. People-pleaser Meredith starts exploring what it means to live life on her own terms, something she hasn’t done since Daniel’s death. Meanwhile, Josie, now in her late 30s, is weighing her options for starting a family without a husband. While they navigate their complicated relationships with others and themselves, a secret is uncovered about the night of Daniel’s accident. Suddenly, the Garland sisters are forced to face the realities of grief, forgiveness and putting love first.

Much like her other novels, which include Something Borrowed and Babyproof, First Comes Love is a classic “beach read,” but this time Giffin digs deeper. With strong, relatable characters, she manages to address a myriad of challenges that women face as they enter adulthood, while also keeping with her familiar, light-hearted dialogue that Giffin’s readers know and love. She cleverly shines a light on the nitty-gritty of marriage, motherhood, and sibling relationships without going too dark. Though the novel is full of “what ifs,” we’re certain that First Comes Love is this summer’s must-read.

Best-selling author Emily Giffin brings us a new novel about a pair of sisters engaged in classic sibling rivalry—with a twist.

They say misery loves company, and that’s certainly the case in Monsters: A Love Story.

Poet Stacey Lane is grieving the recent death of her husband, Michael. Grad-school sweethearts, Michael and Stacey built a life and were raising two young sons in his hometown of Omaha. After his death, her future has become a big question mark.

Then Stacey gets the last email she ever expected to receive: A studio is interested in taking her provocative novel-in-verse, Monsters in the Afterlife, to the big screen, and they want her to consult on the adaptation. Stacey is whisked away to a remote island to meet with a team of actors, producers and writers. Once there, the prickly, acerbic Stacey finds herself drawn to the movie’s A-list star, Tommy DeMarco: To her surprise, the notorious playboy is the one who fell in love with Stacey’s very cerebral, feminist book. Amid high-stakes Hollywood meetings, screenwriting sessions and after-work nightcaps, Stacey and Tommy find themselves in a passionate, secret relationship. Soon enough, Stacey must choose between stability and taking the risk of discovering whether her connection with Tommy will survive everyday life.

Like Stacey’s novel-in-verse, poet Liz Kay’s debut novel feels like a natural book-to-film adaptation. The all-too-human protagonists are undeniably dysfunctional—both fond of drinking and, in Stacey’s words, “a little slutty”—but there is something appealing about them that makes the reader root for their success. Kay has created a heartfelt, sometimes dark but ultimately romantic story about what happens when two broken people come together.

They say misery loves company, and that’s certainly the case in Monsters: A Love Story.

If you’re looking for a typical story in which two people meet, fall in love and live happily ever after—this is not it. Theresa Rebeck’s comedic and heartbreaking love story, I’m Glad About You, is anything but predictable. From Hollywood red carpets to Midwestern mansions, Rebeck takes us on a wild ride through the lives of two high-school sweethearts who just can’t seem to get it right.

Alison Moore and Kyle Wallace’s romance was complicated from the start. They fell in love in high school, but went their separate ways after realizing their future ambitions didn’t quite align. Alison wanted to escape Cincinnati and become a movie star, while Kyle hoped to practice medicine. Years pass as they build their lives independently, but when fate brings them back to Cincinnati, they’re forced to face past regrets and the magnetic connection that remains despite the time and distance. Will they put their careers and families on the line to finally be together?

A seasoned playwright and producer—she was the creator of the TV drama “Smash”—Rebeck gives readers a behind-the-scenes peek into show business and the price of fame. Whether at a Hollywood movie set or a Midwestern cookout, her characters are faced with the (sometimes ugly) truth of what happens when life isn’t unfolding exactly how you thought it would. I’m Glad About You is a refreshingly honest character study that explores how flawed people attempt to build a love that thrives in a messy, complicated world.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

If you’re looking for a typical story in which two people meet, fall in love and live happily ever after—this is not it. Theresa Rebeck’s comedic and heartbreaking love story, I’m Glad About You, is anything but predictable. From Hollywood red carpets to Midwestern mansions, Rebeck takes us on a wild ride through the lives of two high-school sweethearts who just can’t seem to get it right.

Life looks bleak for Mattie Wallace. Penniless and three months pregnant, she has just walked out on her deadbeat boyfriend with six trash bags in the trunk of her ’78 Malibu. With no friends, no family and now no boyfriend, she heads to the only place she can even barely call home: her ex-stepfather’s doublewide in a Pensacola trailer park. Reluctantly, he takes her in, and just as their father-daughter bond begins to rekindle, Mattie learns that her grandmother has died and the inheritance is hers to claim. She and her trash bags hit the road again, bound for her late mother’s hometown of Gandy, Oklahoma.

Like many mother-daughter relationships, Mattie and Genie’s was a complicated one. With no a biological father in the picture, her mother was the only family Mattie knew. A tight-lipped alcoholic, Gertie never divulged many details about her upbringing, which never bothered Mattie—until now. When she arrives at the unfamiliar home of a grandmother she never met, Mattie finds her mother’s old room has been untouched for nearly 35 years. In fact, Genie’s room looks just like she vanished from it without a trace, which—to Mattie’s surprise—is exactly what happened.

Much to her annoyance, Mattie finds herself unable to cash in on her inheritance as planned. She’s stuck in Gandy and forced to rely on its quirky citizens, most of whom are anything but charming. From a drunken priest to a Goth teenager, Mattie befriends some unexpected characters who help her survive until the money comes in. Soon enough, she learns that these small-town folks are more than just weird—they hold the secrets of her mother’s elusive past.

Grief, laughter, sarcasm, heartache, sadness—Melissa DeCarlo’s debut novel has it all. Starting out with light-hearted humor thanks to the narration of its spunky protagonist, The Art of Crash Landing evolves into a compelling, genuine story about a woman’s search for her identity. Though DeCarlo recounts Mattie’s many failures, regrets and yes, even a few crash landings, our heroine ultimately demonstrates an art that every human hopes to master: the art of letting go.  

Life looks bleak for Mattie Wallace. Penniless and three months pregnant, she has just walked out on her deadbeat boyfriend with six trash bags in the trunk of her ’78 Malibu.

They say that with every loss comes a gain, but in Charlie Cates’ case, that seems unimaginable. Her 5-year-old son’s sudden death from a brain aneurysm has turned her world upside down. A divorced single parent, Charlie put Keegan at the center of her world. Well-intentioned attempts from neighbors and colleagues to help Charlie get back on her feet only remind her of her dreaded new normal. When her old editor at Cold Crimes magazine calls with an unusual opportunity, Charlie—ready for a change—boldly seizes it, heading to Chicory, Louisiana, to write about a long-cold missing-persons case.

In 1982, 3-year-old Gabriel Deveau disappeared from his bedroom in the middle of the night. Although the case was highly publicized and ruthlessly investigated, no one was ever convicted, and no body was ever found. Charlie hopes to find a new angle—and she also thinks that the psychic visions she’s been having of children in danger since Keegan’s death may help her solve the mystery. But once she is inside the gates of the Deveaus’ luxurious plantation home, Charlie realizes there is more than one skeleton in the closet.

Hester Young’s debut novel, The Gates of Evangeline, is a thrilling Southern Gothic mystery. Full of family secrets, betrayals and unexpected romances, it pulls readers along on a dark, twisted ride through the Louisiana swamp.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

They say that with every loss comes a gain, but in Charlie Cates’ case, that seems unimaginable. Her 5-year-old son’s sudden death from a brain aneurysm has turned her world upside down. A divorced single parent, Charlie put Keegan at the center of her world. Well-intentioned attempts from neighbors and colleagues to help Charlie get back on her feet only remind her of her dreaded new normal. When her old editor at Cold Crimes magazine calls with an unusual opportunity, Charlie—ready for a change—boldly seizes it, heading to Chicory, Louisiana, to write about a long-cold missing-persons case.

“The secret, they say, is to not regret—but that, I have found, is impossible. The most one can hope for is to forget.” Wylie Rose subsists on memories. They are his food, his religion, his constant focus. Not just any memories—only ones of Cesca Bonet, a beautiful young girl he first encounters at age 10. Daughter of the affluent Bonet family, Cesca spent her summers at the family home in East Hampton, where she and Wylie briefly met during a round of childhood games with her siblings. Wylie, shy and introverted, was immediately enamored with Cesca’s magnetic charm and fearless nature. To him, she was perfect, even at such a young age.

Years pass before Wylie crosses paths with the Bonet family again. Throughout his adolescence, he romanticizes the idea of a life with Cesca, hoping for an opportunity to see her. It isn’t until Cesca’s grandfather’s 80th birthday party that his opportunity arrives. After brooding over every possible scenario, 16-year-old Wylie spots college-aged Cesca at the party, even more luminous and sensual than he remembered. However, Cesca barely looks in his direction, providing an opportunity for him to bond with her younger brother, Aurelio, a free-spirited painter. The two boys bond share an interest in art, and Aurelio agrees to foster Wylie’s artistic ambitions. As the night continues, Cesca finally acknowledges Wylie, entertained by his innocence and youthful modesty. Sparks quickly ignite, leading to a night of unexpected passion that will change their lives forever.

From Paris to Barcelona to New York, Girl in the Moonlight takes the reader on a whirlwind journey through the complicated lives of Wylie, Cesca and the Bonet family. Much like author Charles Dubow’s first novel, Indiscretion, the setting feels very Gatsby-que, full of summer parties and depictions of New York social life. Narrated by protagonist Wylie, the story does not offer one big climax, but instead small explosions throughout, keeping the reader guessing from chapter to chapter. Dubow’s second novel is a passionate story that explores the capacity of love—and its unyielding ability to control us.

Wylie Rose subsists on memories. They are his food, his religion, his constant focus. Not just any memories—only ones of Cesca Bonet, a beautiful young girl he first encounters at age 10.

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