This is the zombie survival novel for people who hate zombie survival novels. The Girl With All the Gifts takes a tired genre and adds new perspective while mixing believable science and relatable human relationships. While the story closely follows the struggles of a young undead girl, Melanie, learning how to cope with what she is, the narrator hops between characters giving depth and authenticity. Epic disasters and narrow escapes will keep you glued, but it’s the characters that will have you thinking about this book for weeks after finishing it.
In 1952, Patricia Highsmith, the cunning mind behind The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train, published The Price of Salt under the pseudonym Claire Morgan because of the lesbian romance at the center of the tale. Therese Belivet is a young set designer who works a less than satisfying day job at a department store, when she glimpses Carol, a young, beautiful mother at her sales counter and instantly recognizes the love of her life. Without giving too much away I will say, The Price of Salt is a truly heartstopping romantic story, full of the simmering intensity that Highsmith is recognized and beloved for. Only Highsmith could so deftly craft a tale where the romance is whispered not shouted and the suspense is seductive and alluring. This is one of my favorite romances of all time.
I’ve been a huge fan of Caitlin Moran’s non-fiction since reading How to Be a Woman a few years ago. When I found out she was writing a novel, I was ecstatic. She did not let me down. Laugh-out-loud funny and heartrendingly honest, How to Build a Girl (HarperCollins,$26.99) is the story of Johanna Morrigan’s climb out of the English projects and into London’s world of music journalism. In short, it is a fictionalized account of Moran’s life. (Fans of How to Be a Woman will particularly enjoy the novel because of this...I would even call the two books companion pieces.) This is a tale of a girl growing up and includes all her “firsts”—her first sexual experiences, first job, first love, and the first time feeling the heavy weight of responsibility. Perhaps it is a bit trite to say that I laughed and I cried, but nevertheless, that’s what happened. I wish I could read this book again for the first time.