What’s new and good to read this month? Jessica Bloom has a look at what’s on offer and chooses Good Intentions, The School for Good Mothers, and Peach Blossom.
A big selection of new books are being released this month which made this selection very difficult! There are some highly anticipated paperback releases such as Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, Colm Toibin’s The Magician, and Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Committed.
The choices I’ve gone for are all the authors debut novel.
A heart-wrenching and beautifully told debut novel about love, family obligation and finding your way written by Kasim Ali. Nur and Yasmina are in love; They’ve been together for four happy years but Nur’s parents don’t know that Yasmina exists. As Nur’s family counts down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, Nur is watching the clock more closely than most: he has made a pact with himself, and with his girlfriend, Yasmina, that at midnight he will finally tell his Pakistani parents the truth. That he has spent years hiding his personal life from them to preserve his image as the golden child.
That he has built a life with a woman he loves and she is Black. Nur wants to be the good son his parents ask him to be, and the good boyfriend Yasmina needs him to be. But as everything he holds dear is challenged, he is forced to ask, is love really a choice for a second-generation immigrant son like him?
Deftly exploring family obligation and racial prejudice alongside the flush of first love, Good Intentions is a captivating and powerful modern love story that announces a thrilling new voice in British fiction.
Images above: Good Intentions, author Kasim Ali
The School for Good Mothers
In this taut and explosive debut novel by Jessamine Chan, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform programme where custody of her child hangs in the balance.
Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.
Until Frida has a very bad day.
The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.
Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.
A searing page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love, The School for Good Mothers introduces, in Frida, an everywoman for the ages. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic.
Images above: The School for Good Mothers front cover, author Jessamine Chan
Peach Blossom Spring
Spanning continents and generations, Peach Blossom Spring is a bold and moving look at the history of modern China, told through the story of one family. Written by Melissa Fu, it’s about the power of our past, the hope for a better future, and the search for a place to call home.
With every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune, and so it goes, until the end of time. It is 1938 in China, and the Japanese are advancing. A young mother, Meilin, is forced to flee her burning city with her four-year-old son, Renshu, and embark on an epic journey across China.
For comfort, they turn to their most treasured possession – a beautifully illustrated hand scroll. Its ancient fables offer solace and wisdom as they travel through their ravaged country, seeking refuge. Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao.
His daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, but he refuses to talk about his childhood. How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down?
Images above: Peach Blossom Spring, author Melissa Fu
Jessica Bloom is a bookseller at her family bookshop, ‘Bookcase London’, an independent bookshop open in Chiswick since 1993.
See Anna Klerfalk’s book choices from previous months here.
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