From ancient Rome to 20th century Middle East to contemporary USA, these debut novels will inspire lively conversation about family from vastly different angles. The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, The Confusion of Languages and George and Lizzie take a close look at marriage and parenthood; Salt Houses takes us into a Palestinian family caught between present and past, displacement and home; Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine focuses on how to open your heart to create family; and Feast of Sorrow shows how disregarding family can ultimately destroy you. While all six books are quite different from one another, they are all reminders that the foundations of life are relationships--and family, whether the one you're born into or the one you make, is the most critical relationship of all.

Please add your own recommendations if you wish.

The Resurrection of Joan AshbyThe Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

Paperback May 2018. 544 pages. Published by Flatiron Books

A novel about sacrifice and motherhood, this is the story of Joan Ashby, a brilliant literary writer, who has happily made a pact with her partner, Mark, that they will never have children. But when she finds herself pregnant and – more importantly – finds that Mark is thrilled, she decides to keep the baby and change the trajectory of her life. Two sons and decades later she finally finishes her masterpiece novel, and just when she is about to reclaim the life she left behind, something happens that forces her to question every choice she has made. Sure to inspire great debate about motherhood versus career!

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The Confusion of LanguagesThe Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Paperback Jun 2018. 336 pages. Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Set within the US expat community in Jordan during the rise of the Arab Spring, this debut novel from Siobhan Fallon follows two women, Cassie and Margaret, who have moved to Jordan with their soldier husbands. They have nothing else in common, but when Margaret has a small car accident and asks Cassie to watch her toddler son while she goes to the police station – and then disappears – their worlds collide. This is an honest, riveting story from a powerful new voice.

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George and LizzieGeorge and Lizzie by Nancy Pearl

Paperback Jul 17, 2018. 288 pages. Published by Touchstone

NPR books commentator Nancy Pearl's debut novel centers on a marriage at a crossroads. George grew up in a loving family while Lizzie was more of an up-close experiment for her two famous psychologist parents. When a secret from Lizzie's past is exposed, she and George must face their marriage truthfully for the first time. Emotionally resonant and funny too, this is an examination of the ways our past experiences as children affect our present relationships.

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Salt HousesSalt Houses by Hala Alyan

Paperback Jun 2018. 336 pages. Published by Mariner Books

An exploration of being caught between the past and the present, and between displacement and home, this debut novel is about a Palestinian family forced, again and again, to leave their homes and their land, and rewrite the stories of their lives. From the Six-Day War of 1967 to Saddam Hussien's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, three generations of one family learn what it means to never be able to truly go home again.

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Paperback Jun 2018. 352 pages. Published by Penguin Books

Eleanor Oliphant is odd. She is a social misfit, has a quirky, deadpan humor and relishes her solitary life of work during the week and vodka, frozen pizza and talking to her mother on the telephone on the weekends. But when she meets Raymond, the IT guy from her office, and together they save Sammy, an elderly man who has fallen on the sidewalk, her life wildly changes. Smart and warm, this is a story about how opening your heart can ultimately heal it.

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Feast of SorrowFeast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Crystal King

Paperback Apr 2018. 416 pages. Published by Touchstone.

In the 26th year of the reign of Augustus Caesar, the first Roman Emperor, a young chef, Thrasius, is bought by the infamous gourmet chef Marcus Gavius Apicius. Apicius has one goal – to cement his epicureal legacy by becoming culinary advisor to Caesar – and he believes Thrasius is his ticket to achieving it. As Apicius gets closer and closer to ultimate success, he continues to have risky disregard for anyone in his way, and finally makes a choice that threatens his entire family. Crystal King's debut about the man who inspired the world's oldest cookbook is a compelling historical drama.

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I'd like to recommend 'Popito!', a book about family and a large swath of historical fiction covering a wide time period from revolutionary Mexico to 1960's Brazil and Chicago:
# Posted By Curtis M. Harrell, Jr. | 7/10/18 12:46 PM
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