Me Before You
by JoJo Moyes
After the restaurant where she works as a waitress closes down, Louisa Clark is left with few job prospects. Desperate for work, Louisa takes a job as a kind of caregiver/companion for Will Trainer, a wealthy quadriplegic has lost the will to live. His bitterness and anger about his condition is often misdirected towards Louisa, making him almost unbearable to work for. If her entire family wasn’t dependent on her income, she would have quit almost immediately. When she finally expresses her frustration to Will, the two reach an uneasy truce, and settle in to a comfortable routine with each other. As they get to know one another better, they grow to respect and genuinely care for each other. But when Louisa learns of Will’s intention to put a permanent end to his physical pain and misery, she is horrified. She has six months to convince Will that life is worth living. She’s planned everything. Outings, adventures, vacations. But will it be enough to change his mind? Will she be enough?
Appeal: Book clubs groups, fans of Jodi Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, adults and teens, people who can’t resist a good tearjerker. BookPage top 50 Books of the Year 2013.
The Girl You Left Behind
by JoJo Moyes
Realistic Fiction/Historical Fiction
Sophie Lefevre will do anything to see her husband again. It’s been three years since her husband left the small French town of St. Perone to fight on the Front, and the town has since fallen into German hands. Life is hard under German occupation. People are starving, yet Sophie and her sister, proprietors of Le Coque Rouge, are forced to feed the enemy. Sophie takes comfort from a painting that hangs on the wall of Le Coque Rouge. A reminder of her husband’s artistry, and the girl she used to be. Before the war took everything she loved. She draws strength from this vision of herself, but she is not the only one who appreciates the painting. The new German commander has taken an interest as well, but is he an admirer of the painting or its subject? When Sophie receives word that her husband has been sent to one of the worst POW camps, she hopes to use her influence with the commander to guarantee his safety. But how much is Sophie willing to sacrifice? Years later, in present day London, the painting becomes the subject of a legal battle when Edouard Lefevre’s descendants claim the painting was looted during World War I. Olivia Halston, the current owner of the painting, feels a special connection with the girl in the painting. It was a honeymoon gift from her deceased husband, and she can’t bear to let it go. But fighting it may lead not only to financial ruin, but it may cost her a real chance at happiness with the first man she’s truly cared about since her husband died. How much is she willing to lose over a piece of artwork? Is it really worth the sacrifice?
Appeal: Book club groups, fans Nicholas Sparks, historical fiction and romance.
The Girl with a Clock for a Heart
by Peter Swanson
One day is pretty much like the next for George Foss. He has a steady job, an open relationship with his on again/off again girlfriend, and a cat named Nora. Life is predictable. Until a blast from his past walks in to his favorite bar and draws him into a dangerous world of drama and intrigue. Though he hasn’t seen her in years, and has every reason not to trust her, he can’t resist her pull when she asks for his help. She’s stolen money from her former employer/lover, and she’s been on the run from his goons ever since. All she wants now is to return the money, but she’s afraid for her life. If George, a neutral party, were to return the money all her problems would be solved. He quickly agrees, and the drop seems to go as planned. But when her former employer ends up dead he finds himself the prime suspect in a murder investigation and the woman is nowhere to be found. Is she a femme fatale or a damsel in distress? Time will tell, but the clock is ticking for the girl with a clock for a heart.
Appeal: Fans of Gone Girl, Hitchcock and the Femme Fatale. Should appeal to both men and women. Fast, quick read by a debut author.
The Weird Sisters
by Eleanor Brown
Written in the unusual first person plural, The Weird Sisters is the story of Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia Andreas. Each named for a Shakespearean heroine by their professor father, the girls struggle to live up to their namesakes, as well as to escape the roles they are cast within the family. Rose, the eldest, is the intelligent, responsible sister. She wants nothing more than to teach mathematics at her beloved Barnwell, where her father is a professor of literature. Bianca, a.k.a. Bean, is the beautiful and restless middle sister. She wants more than anything to be somebody, even if it means breaking a few rules along the way. And finally, Cordelia, is the fun-loving, laid back younger sister. She never takes anything or anyone too seriously. When their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, the Andreas sisters find themselves once again living together under the same roof. Each sister is running away from something; using their mother’s diagnosis as an excuse to return home. The sisters will need to learn how to break out of these molds if they can ever hope to change their destinies. Readers who recognize the Shakespearean reference in the title will be delighted with the many quotes from the Bard sprinkled throughout the novel. Shakespeare is the first language spoken in the Andreas home. It is the default means of communication used by their father, often to humorous effect:
“Marry, sir, ‘tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers: therefore he that cannot lick his fingers goes not with me,” he said finally.
“Um, what?” Bean asked.
“I think what your father means is that since breast cancer may be hereditary it’s important that you do self-exam, “ our mother said, patting his hand as he nodded uncomfortably.
Oh. Right. We’re sure that’s exactly what Shakespeare was trying to say.
Reading is the number one pastime of the Andreas family. “How can we explain what books and reading mean to our family, the gift of libraries, of pages?” Bean even breaks up with her boyfriend over reading. “Because despite his money and his looks and all the good-on-paper attributes he possessed, he was not a reader, and, well, let’s just say that is the sort of nonsense up with which we will not put.” Weird Sisters is a delight from beginning to end.
Appeal: Fans of domestic fiction and books small town life. Especially for women with sisters or daughters and anyone nostalgic about books and reading.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
This engaging memoir chronicles the author’s brave and some might say reckless decision to hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the state of Washington by herself. With no real long-distance hiking experience, Strayed embarks upon a life changing journey along one of the most scenic and challenging trails in the United States. Weighed down by an enormous pack of supplies (she even has a foldable saw!), nothing could prepare her for the actual reality of hiking the PCT. Strayed encounters wildlife, extreme weather, intense hunger and dangerous thirst, as well as a cast of vividly depicted characters she meets along the way.
Much more than a travel memoir, Wild is the story of a young woman whose life is spiraling out of control following the tragic and unexpected death of her mother from lung cancer. Seemingly determined to ruin her life and her marriage, she engages in high risk behaviors including a string of one-night stands with strangers and a dangerous flirtation with heroin. Following her inevitable divorce from Paul, who by all accounts appears to be the most patient and understanding man in the world, Strayed is determined to get her life back. Hiking the PCT is the first step of a long journey back to her true self.
“I had to change was the thought that drove me in those months of planning. Not into a different person, but back to the person I used to be – strong and responsible, clear-eyed and driven, ethical and good. And the PCT would make me that way. There, I’d walk and think about my entire life. I’d find my strength again, far from everything that had made my life ridiculous.”
Strayed writes with breathtaking honesty about her own mistakes, her sense of guilt, and the unquenchable grief she feels at the loss of her mother. Wild is inspiring, funny, sad, cathartic, and well written. Readers will enjoy taking this journey with Strayed; perhaps even being inspired themselves to invest in a good pair of hiking boots and a bottle of Snapple lemonade.
Appeal: Fans of travel writings such as Into the Wild, and memoirs like Eat, Pray Love. Should appeal to readers who enjoy stories about overcoming obstacles, dealing with loss, and the journey to self-discovery.