Sometimes you want to read books about real people set in your own world -- the one that you know exists for sure. Or is that just me? Nah, everyone does! These three contemporary novels captured our hearts this fall. Hush by Eishes Chayil (Walker, pictured). This tale will warm your heart with the traditions of Borough Park, Brooklyn -- a traditional Chassidic neighborhood -- and it will also chill you through and through. At age 13, Gittel learns that her best friend is being abused by a family member, but the adults in their world want to keep it quiet and pretend it's not happening. This brave book takes on all the questions and pain that arise from this unbearable situation with both empathy and repugnance. It's beautifully done by an anonymous author who grew up in the neighborhood herself.
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (Dial). How do an academically minded deaf girl and a rock 'n' roll band full of seemingly entitled kids go together? Awesomely well in John's lyrical novel, which tackles not only the topics of cochlear implants and finding your way as a deaf girl in a sound-filled world, but also the issues of kissing and general high schoolness. The mix is as full of attitude as the book's gorgeous cover.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Dutton, out December 2nd). Swoon, swoon, swoon. This debut is delightful! New friends, a charming love interest, and the lights of Paris twinkle throughout this enchanting story. I got lost in it while I was reading -- laughing and blushing and gushing -- because I wanted to be Anna. Pick. It. Up.
PS-To find more awesome contemporary reads, visit The Contemps.