As we settle into 2018, here are six of the best debut novels to read and discuss during the year.

If you love books about place and community, Golden Hill, The Dry and If the Creek Don't Rise all transport readers to the streets of small towns and big cities and into the hearts of the people who struggle to make their lives there. Secrets are held – and readers' attentions are held too! – in both The Second Mrs. Hockaday and The Mothers. And, finally, readers can't help but root for quirky, clever teenager Ginny Moon even as she resists the loving family that finally wants to bring her home. All of these debuts are sure to spark emotion and conversation and are great bets for your book club!

Read on for information on each book including reviews, articles, excepts and reading guides.

The MothersThe Mothers by Brit Bennett

Paperback Oct 2017, 288 pages. Also available in hardcover & ebook. Published by Riverhead Books.

It begins with a secret. Nadia Turner is mourning the suicide of her mother when she gets involved with Luke, the local pastor's son – and becomes pregnant. She can't even tell her best friend, Aubrey. The resulting consequences for Luke, Aubrey and Nadia have an impact that follows them into adulthood. In this emotionally perceptive debut about a contemporary Southern California black community, the single question what if becomes a lifelong haunt.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide

Ginny Moon Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Paperback Dec 2017, 384 pages. Also available in hardcover & ebook. Published by Park Row Books.

Ginny Moon is a typical teenager except that she has autism. She has also been in foster care her entire life, moving from home to home. Now she has finally found a loving and safe family, yet she doesn't want to stay. In fact, she's planning her escape and will go to great lengths to accomplish it – stealing, lying, and hurting the people who have loved her. A quirky, suspenseful and heartbreaking debut, Ginny Moon is about trying to make sense of the world and finding your place in it.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide & online discussion
Golden HillGolden Hill: A Novel of Old New York by Francis Spufford

Paperback Feb 2018, 320 pages. Also available in hardcover & ebook. Published by Scribner.

Acclaimed non-fiction writer Francis Spufford's first novel tells the story of a Mr. Smith in mid-eighteenth century Manhattan who, fresh off the boat, carries a huge sum of money and an air of mystery. Should merchants befriend him or arrest him? Or maybe even kill him? Set thirty years before the American Revolution, this is a vivid depiction of New York provokingly different from what it will become, but still a place where a man like Mr. Smith can make himself anew. Winner of the 2017 Costa First Novel Award.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide
The Second Mrs. Hockaday The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

Paperback Nov 2017, 288 pages. Also available in hardcover & ebook. Published by Algonquin Books.

Placidia Hockaday is just a teenager when her husband is called back to fight on behalf of the Confederacy in the Civil War. He leaves her behind with their slaves. When he returns two years later he finds her charged with a crime she won't speak about. Vividly transporting readers to the old South, this debut is about deep-rooted beliefs and the life events that make us challenge our own assumptions.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide & online discussion
The Dry The Dry by Jane Harper

Paperback Jan 2, 2018, 336 pages. Also available in hardcover & ebook. Published by Flatiron Books.

You can feel the parched earth crunch under your feet in this spellbinding debut mystery set in the hinterlands of Australia. The drought in Kierarra has wrecked almost everything, most especially the economy. But is it the volatile conditions that precipitated a double murder-suicide or something else? One relentless detective is set to find the answer. A compelling portrait of a town in the grip of the nine-year drought, known as the Big Dry, which ended in 2012. Winner of the 2017 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide & online discussion
If the Creek Don't Rise If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss

Paperback Aug 2017, 320 pages. Also available in ebook. Published by Sourcebooks.

In this debut about a fiercely proud and tenacious Appalachian community, Sadie Blue is desperate to make her own mark in the world. She has been a wife for only fifteen days, but she already knows she needs to get out of a bad marriage – and out of town. When a stranger appears, Sadie might just have found her ticket out. An intimate glimpse of an often forgotten group of people.
Review, article, excerpt, reading guide & online discussion

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