Have you joined Simply Held? If not, you’re missing out! Four times a year, we choose fiction titles for Simply Held members to read from multiple categories: Diverse Debuts, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, International Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Out of This World, Overcoming Adversity, Rainbow Reads, Stranger Things, and Young Adult. Join Simply Held to have any of the new picks automatically put on hold for you.
Below you will find information provided by the publishers and authors on the titles we have picked for April.
Diverse Debuts: Debut fiction novel by a BIPOC author.
Your Driver is Waiting by Priya Guns
Damani is tired. Her father just died on the job at a fast-food joint, and now she lives paycheck to paycheck in a basement, caring for her mom and driving for an app that is constantly cutting her take. The city is roiling in protests–everybody’s in solidarity with somebody–but while she keeps hearing that they’re fighting for change on behalf of people like her, she literally can’t afford to pay attention.
Then she gives a ride to Jolene (five stars, obviously). Jolene seems like she could be the perfect girlfriend–attentive, attractive, an ally–and their chemistry is off the charts. Jolene’s done the reading, she goes to every protest, and she says all the right things. So maybe Damani can look past the one thing that’s holding her back: she’s never dated anyone with money before, not to mention a white girl with money. But just as their romance intensifies and Damani finally lets her guard down, Jolene does something unforgivable, setting off an explosive chain of events.
A wild, one-sitting read brimming with dark comedy, and piercing social commentary and announcing Priya Guns’s feverishly original voice, Your Driver Is Waiting is a crackling send-up of our culture of modern alienation.
This title is also available as a Libby eBook.
Graphic Novel: Fiction novel for adults of any subgenre with diverse characters depicted by color illustrations, sketches, and photographs.
Ephemera: A Memoir by Briana Loewinsohn
A debut graphic novel that poignantly blends memoir, magic realism, and graphic medicine.
Ephemera is a poetic and dreamlike take on a graphic memoir set in a garden, a forest, and a greenhouse. The story drifts among a grown woman, her early memories as a child, and the gossamer existence of her mother. A lyrical entry in the field of graphic medicine, Ephemera is a story about a daughter trying to relate to a parent who struggles with mental illness. Gorgeously illustrated in a painted palette of warmy, earthy tones, it is a quiet book of isolation, plants, confusion, acceptance, and the fog of childhood. Loewinsohn’s debut book is an aching, meditative twist on autobiography, infusing the genre with an ethereal fusion of memory and imagination.
Historical Fiction: Historical fiction novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).
Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Hosein
From an unforgettable new voice in Caribbean literature, a sweeping story of two families colliding in 1940s Trinidad—and a chilling mystery that shows how interconnected their lives truly are
Trinidad in the 1940s, nearing the end of American occupation and British colonialism. On a hill overlooking Bell Village sits the Changoor farm, where Dalton and Marlee Changoor live in luxury unrecognizable to those who reside in the farm’s shadow. Down below is the Barrack, a ramshackle building of wood and tin, divided into rooms occupied by whole families. Among these families are the Saroops—Hans, Shweta, and their son, Krishna, all three born of the barracks. Theirs are hard lives of backbreaking work, grinding poverty, devotion to faith, and a battle against nature and a social structure designed to keep them where they are.
But when Dalton goes missing and Marlee’s safety is compromised, farmhand Hans is lured by the promise of a handsome stipend to move to the farm as a watchman. As the mystery of Dalton’s disappearance unfolds, the lives of the wealthy couple and those who live in the barracks below become insidiously entwined, their community changed forever and in shocking ways.
International Fiction: Fiction novel originally written in another language with BIPOC main character(s).
How to Turn into a Bird by María José Ferrada, translated by Elizabeth Bryer
After years of hard work in a factory outside of Santiago, Chile, Ramón accepts a peculiar job: to look after a Coca-Cola billboard located by the highway. And it doesn’t take long for Ramón to make an even more peculiar decision: to make the billboard his new home.
Twelve-year-old Miguel is enchanted by his uncle’s unusual living arrangement, but the neighborhood is buzzing with gossip, declaring Ramón a madman bringing shame to the community. As he visits his uncle in a perch above it all, Miguel comes to see a different perspective, and finds himself wondering what he believes—has his uncle lost his mind, as everyone says? Is madness—and the need for freedom—contagious? Or is Ramón the only one who can see things as they really are, finding a deeper meaning in a life they can’t understand from the ground?
When a local boy disappears, tensions erupt and forgotten memories come to the surface. And Miguel, no longer perched in the billboard with his uncle, witnesses the reality on the ground: a society that, in the name of peace, is not afraid to use violence.With sharp humor and a deep understanding of a child’s mind, How to Turn Into a Bird is a powerful tale of coming of age, loss of innocence, and shifting perspectives that asks us: how far outside of our lives must we go to really see things clearly?
Juvenile Fiction: Fiction chapter book with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for children 7-11
Sincerely Sicily by Tamika Burgess
Sicily Jordan’s worst nightmare has come true! She’s been enrolled in a new school, with zero of her friends and stuck wearing a fashion catastrophe of a uniform. But however bad Sicily thought sixth grade was going to be, it only gets worse when she does her class presentation.
While all her classmates breezed through theirs, Sicily is bombarded with questions on how she can be both Black and Panamanian. She wants people to understand, but it doesn’t feel like anyone is ready to listen—first at school and then at home. Because when her abuela starts talking mess about her braids, Sicily’s the only one whose heart is being crumpled for a second time.
Staying quiet may no longer be an option, but that doesn’t mean Sicily has the words to show the world just what it means to be a proud Black Panamanian either. Even though she hasn’t written in her journal since her abuelo passed, it’s time to pick up her pen again—but will it be enough to prove to herself and everyone else exactly who she is?
Out of this World: Science fiction novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).
The Lies of the Ajungo by Moses Ose Utomi
Moses Ose Utomi’s debut novella, The Lies of the Ajungo, follows one boy’s epic quest to bring water back to his city and save his mother’s life. Prepare to enter the Forever Desert.
They say there is no water in the City of Lies. They say there are no heroes in the City of Lies. They say there are no friends beyond the City of Lies. But would you believe what they say in the City of Lies?
In the City of Lies, they cut out your tongue when you turn thirteen, to appease the terrifying Ajungo Empire and make sure it continues sending water. Tutu will be thirteen in three days, but his parched mother won’t last that long. So Tutu goes to his oba and makes a deal: she provides water for his mother, and in exchange he will travel out into the desert and bring back water for the city. Thus begins Tutu’s quest for the salvation of his mother, his city, and himself.
Overcoming Adversity: Fiction novel with diversity, equitEny, or inclusion subject matter written for people 14 and older.
Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin
There are the goodbyes and then the fishing out of the bodies—everything in between is speculation.
After the last American troops leave Vietnam, siblings Anh, Minh, and Thanh journey to Hong Kong with the promise that their parents and younger siblings will soon follow. But when tragedy strikes, the three children are left orphaned, and sixteen-year-old Anh becomes the caretaker for her two younger brothers overnight.
In the years that follow, Anh and her brothers immigrate to the UK, living first in overcrowded camps and resettlement centers and then, later, in a modernizing London plagued by social inequality. Anh works in a factory to pay the bills. Minh loiters about with fellow high school dropouts. Thanh, the youngest, plays soccer with his friends after class. As they mature, each sibling reckons with survivor’s guilt, unmoored by their parents’ absence. And with every choice, their paths diverge further, until it’s unclear if love alone can keep them together.
Told through lyrical narrative threads, historical research, voices from lost family, and notes by an unnamed narrator determined to chart these siblings’ fates, Wandering Souls captures the lives of a family marked by loss yet relentless in the pursuit of a better future. With urgency and precision, it affirms that the most important stories are those we claim for ourselves, establishing Cecile Pin as a masterful new literary voice.
Rainbow reads: Fiction novel with LGBTQ+ main character(s).
Endpapers by Jennifer Savran Kelly
A queer book conservator finds a mysterious old love letter, setting off a search for the author who wrote it and for a meaningful life beyond the binary in early-2000s New York City.
It’s 2003,and artist Dawn Levit is stuck. A bookbinder who works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she spends all day repairing old books but hasn’t created anything of her own in years. What’s more, although she doesn’t have a word for it yet, Dawn is genderqueer, and with a partner who wishes she were a man and a society that wants her to be a woman, she’s struggling to feel safe expressing herself. Dawn spends her free time scouting the city’s street art, hoping to find the inspiration that will break her artistic block—and time is of the essence, because she’s making her major gallery debut in six weeks and doesn’t have anything to show yet.
One day at work, Dawn discovers something hidden under the endpapers of an old book: the torn-off cover of a lesbian pulp novel from the 1950s, with an illustration of a woman looking into a mirror and seeing a man’s face. Even more intriguing is the queer love letter written on the back. Dawn becomes obsessed with tracking down the author of the letter, convinced the mysterious writer can help her find her place in the world. Her fixation only increases when her best friend, Jae, is injured in a hate crime for which Dawn feels responsible. But ultimately for Dawn, the trickiest puzzle to solve is how she truly wants to live her life.
Stranger Things: Horror novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).
Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez
A young father and son set out on a road trip, devastated by the death of the wife and mother they both loved. United in grief, the pair travel to her ancestral home, where they must confront the terrifying legacy she has bequeathed: a family called the Order that commits unspeakable acts in search of immortality.
For Gaspar, the son, this maniacal cult is his destiny. As the Order tries to pull him into their evil, he and his father take flight, attempting to outrun a powerful clan that will do anything to ensure its own survival. But how far will Gaspar’s father go to protect his child? And can anyone escape their fate?
Moving back and forth in time, from London in the swinging 1960s to the brutal years of Argentina’s military dictatorship and its turbulent aftermath, Our Share of Night is a novel like no other: a family story, a ghost story, a story of the occult and the supernatural, a book about the complexities of love and longing with queer subplots and themes.
Young Adult Fiction: Fiction chapter book with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for children 14 and older.
Chaos Theory by Nic Stone
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin delivers a gripping romance about two teens: a certified genius living with a diagnosed mental disorder and a politician’s son who is running from his own addiction and grief. Don’t miss this gut punch of a novel about mental health, loss, and discovering you are worthy of love.
Scars exist to remind us of what we’ve survived.
Since Shelbi enrolled at Windward Academy as a senior and won’t be there very long, she hasn’t bothered making friends. What her classmates don’t know about her can’t be used to hurt her—you know, like it did at her last school.
Andy Criddle is not okay. At all.
He’s had far too much to drink.
Again. Which is bad.
And things are about to get worse.
When Shelbi sees Andy at his lowest, she can relate. So she doesn’t resist reaching out. And there’s no doubt their connection has them both seeing stars . . . but the closer they get, the more the past threatens to pull their universes apart.
This title is also available as a Libby eBook, Libby eAudiobook, in large print, and as a Playaway Audiobook.
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