Books

Nine best new books to read this month

From a moving memoir about one mother's journey to nurture her child genius to a teenage boy charged with a hate crime, these great reads will keep you entertained all month long.

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1. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, $28. Available at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

High-powered lawyer and single mom Kate is in a meeting when she receives an urgent call from her daughter’s school: Fifteen-year-old Amelia has been suspended for cheating. That sounds insane to Kate. Amelia is an honour roll student, destined for an Ivy League college. When Kate arrives at Amelia’s school, Grace Hall, she is shocked to find Amelia has jumped to her death from the roof — and it seems no one saw anything.

As Kate struggles to understand what might have driven her daughter to suicide, she receives a mysterious text message: “She didn’t jump.” Kate makes it her mission to figure out what happened to her only child in her last days. After wading through pages of text messages, emails and Facebook posts, Kate discovers Amelia had been tapped to join a popular and forbidden school club, the Magpies, infamous for their cruel hazing and Lord of the Flies culture. Slowly, she uncovers the dangerous secrets Grace Hall and its students are hiding.

A mother of two girls herself, author Kimberly McCreight will have you reconsidering your own relationships with your children — or, at the very least, considering the way teens use social media in a school setting. —Lora Grady

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2. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, $31. Available at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

The Burgess boys know the law: Jim is a famous corporate lawyer, Bob a more low-key legal aid attorney. But when their nephew is charged with a hate crime in their small hometown, the brothers discover they have a lot to learn — about themselves and their family, not to mention racism, adultery and unlawful acts. —Anna Redman

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3. Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge, $29. Available at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

Lucie Walker doesn’t remember her name or how she came to be standing knee-deep in the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay wearing an Armani suit. Now she must collect clues to her past, her mysterious former self and her feelings for Grady, her devoted fiancé — a man who’s now a stranger to her. An intriguing look at how memories shape and define us. —Sydney Loney

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4. The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag, $28. Available at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

While out for a walk, lovelorn Alba Ashby finds herself drawn inside a house by a beautiful older woman. She’s invited to stay — but only if she turns around her failed career and life in 99 nights. When she accepts, Alba escapes into a magical world that includes the ghosts of the home’s past residents — among them Dorothy Parker, Virginia Woolf and Daphne du Maurier — and a mysterious locked tower. She also meets four unforgettable women who help her overcome her seemingly insurmountable problems. —Marnie Peters

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5. Bone & Bread by Saleema Nawaz, $23. Available at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

Two sisters find their childhood interrupted when their beloved Irish mother dies while they’re barely in their teens. Left to fend for themselves with only their impetuous and remote Sikh uncle overseeing them, the girls head down a wayward path. One develops anorexia, the other winds up pregnant and alone at 16. When tragedy strikes again, a return home reveals the truth behind an untimely death. —Danya Cohen

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6. River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay, $32. Available at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

Guy Gavriel Kay appeals to fans of Under Heaven by setting his newest novel, River of Stars, some 400 years later — and making the consequences of actions in the earlier book heartbreakingly evident. As River of Stars begins, it becomes clear that Ren Daiyan is no ordinary man: Marked for glory from an early age, he believes he is born to fight and regain control of the kingdom of Kitai. Meanwhile, Lin Shan has been taught things women never are — and has captivated an emperor in her quest to save her father from dangerous scrutiny. Together will they change the course of history? —Laurie Grassi

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7. Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado, $30. Available at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

In 1943, talented young fashion designer Mignonne Lachapelle is attempting to launch her career in New York in an industry restricted by war. She’s also navigating deep feelings for famed French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, whose zealous wife is trying to win him back — while courting Mignonne. Set amid dazzling wartime Manhattan, this fictionalized story about a love triangle involving the author of the beloved tale The Little Prince is captivating. —Dominique Lamberton

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8. Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala, $27. Available at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

Sonali Deraniyagala’s story begins on the morning of December 26, 2004, while she was vacationing on the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka. In a flash her entire life is changed forever when her husband, two children and parents are swept away by the powerful, unforgiving tsunami. This brave memoir (reminiscent of Joan Didion’s acclaimed The Year of Magical Thinking) is a painfully honest portrayal of learning to live with loss and fighting to keep what you love alive. —Madeline Cravit

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9. The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett, $30. Available at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

In 2011, newspapers around the world reported on child prodigy Jacob Barnett, a 12-year-old university student with an IQ higher than Einstein’s. The journey to recognized genius, however, was paved with tremendous struggles. In this incredibly moving memoir, Kristine Barnett shares her family’s journey with Jacob’s autism. A story about one mother’s unrelenting faith and determination, it’s required reading for anyone who’s ever been told they can’t. —Janet Ho

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