Noteworthy Debut Novels


By Cathleen Towey Merenda 

It’s spring, and the publishing industry is enthusiastically introducing new authors. This year there’s an unusually large number of good first novels just waiting for readers. Take a chance on a new writer by borrowing these impressive books from the Westbury Memorial Public Library.

A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock (Crown Publishers, 2016). Vera Bellington grew up wealthy in Manhattan with all the baggage brought to a woman of her class in the 1920s. Against her mother’s wishes, Vera attends Vassar College and majors in art history. Her mother’s advice wins out, however, when Vera marries a cold, rich husband who has little time for or interest in his wife. When a European artist comes to live and work in Vera’s building, he awakens parts of Vera she has long kept repressed. Publication date for this book is May 3.ColTowey__033016C

Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson (William Morrow, 2016). A reclusive, one hit wonder author living in exclusive Bel Aire, California has to write a new book to pay her bills and support her son. Young editor Alice Whitely is sent by the author’s publisher to take care of Frank, the author’s eccentric and endearing nine year old, to ensure the book gets written. Alice learns to love Frank and a mysterious man who visits to help around the house. A hopeful, charming story full of endearing and quirky characters.

I’m Glad about You by Theresa Rebeck (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016). Every few years a book comes along that immediately needs to be read again, because it’s that good. Alison and Kyle are high school sweethearts from Catholic families in Cincinnati who are crazy about each other but want careers that don’t match. Sassy Alison goes off to New York to become and actress and steady Kyle goes to medical school and returns home to practice. Although it seems they won’t end up together, these two struggle to get over their feeling and move along with their lives.

Losing the Light by Andrea Dunlop (Washington Square Press, 2016). Two female college students from California spend a semester in Nantes, France. While there, they meet and both fall for Alex, a sexy and manipulative French photographer. Swept up with the euphoria of a strange country and untethered by their friends and family from home, Alex manages to manipulate the girls for his own satisfaction and create a crisis with a frightening resolution.

ColTowey__033016AThe Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore (William Morrow, 2016). This cozy mystery is a window into creative twenty-somethings living in Brooklyn, with all their affectations and financial challenges. Jett Bennett, Brooklyn hipster and potential music journalist, finds her downstairs neighbor, Kit Kat, murdered in her apartment. It’s obvious the police suspect the wrong person of the crime, so Jett and her best friend, Sid, set off to solve the mystery. Will they end up as lovers and solve the crime? Read the book to find out.

Cathleen Towey Merenda is the Director of the Westbury Memorial Public Library and served on the Carnegie Medal Committee for the American Library Association in 2014.

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