April’s Simply Held Fiction Picks

Changes are coming to Simply Held starting July 1, 2024, but before that happens we wanted to share our April fiction picks for our patrons that are already signed up! Starting July 1, there will only be four fiction picks for you to choose from: diverse debuts, graphic novel, historical fiction, and international fiction. Our fiction picks are chosen quarterly and are available in regular print only. If you would like to update your selections or are a new patron who wants to receive picks from any of those four categories, sign up for Simply Held through our website!

Below you will find information provided by the publishers and authors on the titles we have selected for April from the following categories: Diverse Debuts, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, International Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Out of This World, Overcoming Adversity, Rainbow Reads, Stranger Things, and Young Adult.

Diverse Debuts:

Diverse Debuts: Debut fiction novel by a BIPOC author.

Acts of Forgiveness by Maura Cheeks

How much of their lineage is one family willing to unearth in order to participate in the nation’s first federal reparations program?

Every American waits with bated breath to see whether or not the country’s first female president will pass the Forgiveness Act. The bill would allow Black families to claim up to $175,000 if they can prove they are the descendants of slaves, and for ambitious single mother Willie Revel the bill could be a long-awaited form of redemption. A decade ago, Willie gave up her burgeoning journalism career to help run her father’s struggling construction company in Philadelphia and she has reluctantly put family first, without being able to forget who she might have become. Now she’s back living with her parents and her young daughter while trying to keep her family from going into bankruptcy. Could the Forgiveness Act uncover her forgotten roots while also helping save their beloved home and her father’s life’s work?

In order to qualify, she must first prove that the Revels are descended from slaves, but the rest of the family isn’t as eager to dig up the past. Her mother is adopted, her father doesn’t trust the government and believes working with a morally corrupt employer is the better way to save their business, and her daughter is just trying to make it through the fifth grade at her elite private school without attracting unwanted attention. It’s up to Willie to verify their ancestry and save her family—but as she delves into their history, Willie begins to learn just how complicated family and forgiveness can be.

With powerful insight and moving prose, Acts of Forgiveness asks how history shapes who we become and considers the weight of success when it is achieved despite incredible odds—and ultimately what leaving behind a legacy truly means. – Ballantine Books

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Graphic Novel:

Graphic Novel: Fiction novel for adults of any subgenre with diverse characters depicted by color illustrations, sketches, and photographs.

My Picture Diary by Fujiwara Maki, translated by Ryan Holmberg

The wife of Japan’s most lauded manga-ka documents a year in their lives with her own artistry.

In 1981, Fujiwara Maki began a picture diary about daily life with her son and husband, the legendary manga author Tsuge Yoshiharu. Publishing was not her original intention. “I wanted to record our family’s daily life while our son, Shosuke, was small. But as 8mm cameras were too expensive and we were poor, I decided on the picture diary format instead. I figured Shosuke would enjoy reading it when he got older.”

Drawn in a simple, personable style, and covering the same years fictionalized in Tsuge’s final masterpiece The Man Without Talent, Fujiwara’s journal focuses on the joys of daily life amidst the stresses of childrearing, housekeeping, and managing a depressed husband. A touching and inspiring testimony of one Japanese woman’s resilience, My Picture Diary is also an important glimpse of the enigma that is Tsuge. Fujiwara’s diary is unsparing. It provides a stark picture of the gender divide in their household: Tsuge sleeps until noon and does practically nothing. He never compliments her cooking, and dictates how money is spent. Not once is he shown drawing. And yet, Fujiwara remains surprisingly empathetic toward her mercurial husband.

Translated by Ryan Holmberg, this edition sheds light on Fujiwara’s life, her own career in art, writing, and underground theater, and her extensive influence upon her husband’s celebrated manga. – Drawn and Quarterly

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Historical Fiction:

Historical Fiction: Historical fiction novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

A History of Burning by Janika Oza

In 1898, Pirbhai, a teenage boy looking for work, is taken from his village in India to labor for the British on the East African Railway. Far from home, Pirbhai commits a brutal act in the name of survival that will haunt him and his family for years to come.

So begins Janika Oza’s masterful, richly told epic, where the embers of this desperate act are fanned into flame over four generations, four continents, throughout the twentieth century. Pirbhai’s children are born in Uganda during the waning days of British colonial rule, and as the country moves toward independence, his granddaughters, three sisters, come of age in a divided nation. Latika is an aspiring journalist, who will put everything on the line for what she believes in; Mayuri’s ambitions will take her farther away from home than she ever imagined; and fearless Kiya will have to carry the weight of her family’s silence and secrets.

In 1972, the entire family is forced to flee under Idi Amin’s military dictatorship. Pirbhai’s grandchildren are now scattered across the world, struggling to find their way back to each other. One day a letter arrives with news that makes each generation question how far they are willing to go, and who they are willing to defy, to secure their own place in the world. – Grand Central Publishing

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International Fiction:

International Fiction: Fiction novel originally written in another language with BIPOC main character(s).

The End of August by Yu Miri; translated by Morgan Giles

From the National Book Award winning author, an extraordinary, ground-breaking, epic multi-generational novel about a Korean family living under Japanese occupation.

In 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea, Lee Woo-cheol was a running prodigy and a contender for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. But he would have had to run under the Japanese flag.

Nearly a century later, his granddaughter is living in Japan and training to run a marathon herself. She summons Korean shamans to hold an intense, transcendent ritual to connect with Lee Woo-cheol. When his ghost appears, alongside those of his brother Lee Woo-Gun, and their young neighbor, who was forced to become a comfort woman to Japanese soldiers stationed in China during World War II, she must uncover their stories to free their souls. What she discovers is at the heart of this sweeping, majestic novel about a family that endured death, love, betrayal, war, political upheaval, and ghosts, both vengeful and wistful.

A poetic masterpiece that is a feat of historical fiction, epic family saga, and mind-bending story-telling acrobatics, The End of August is a marathon of literature. – Riverhead Books

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Juvenile Fiction:

Juvenile Fiction: Fiction chapter book with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for children 7-11

Green by Alex Gino

Green is lucky. They’ve got a supportive dad, friendly neighbors, and good friends. They’ve figured out a lot of things . . . but they can’t figure out what to do about Ronnie.

Ronnie’s a boy who’s been in Green’s class for awhile. He’s sweet. Funny. And lately, Green’s heart has raced a little faster whenever he’s around.

Green is pretty sure about their own feelings. But they have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how Ronnie feels.

When Green doesn’t get a part in the school musical – a very untraditional version of The Wizard of Oz – they join the crew to work alongside Ronnie.

Is this a good idea?

Green’s about to find out. . . . – Alex Gino

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Out of this World:

Out of this World: Science fiction novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

Counterweight by Djuna; translated by Anton Hur

On the fictional island of Patusan—and much to the ire of the Patusan natives—the Korean conglomerate LK is constructing an elevator into Earth’s orbit, gradually turning this one-time tropical resort town into a teeming travel hub: a gateway to and from our planet. Up in space, holding the elevator’s “spider cable” taut, is a mass of space junk known as the counterweight. And stashed within that junk is a trove of crucial data: a memory fragment left by LK’s former CEO, the control of which will determine the company’s—and humanity’s—future.

Racing up the elevator to retrieve the data is a host of rival forces: Mac, the novel’s narrator and LK’s chief of External Affairs, increasingly disillusioned with his employer; the everyman Choi Gangwu, unwittingly at the center of Mac’s investigations; the former CEO’s brilliant niece and power-hungry son; and Rex Tamaki, a violent officer in LK’s Security Division. They’re all caught in a labyrinth of fake identities, neuro-implants called Worms, and old political grievances held by the Patusan Liberation Front, the army of island natives determined to protect Patusan’s sovereignty.

Originally conceived by Djuna as a low-budget science fiction film, with literary references as wide-ranging as Joseph Conrad and the Marquis de Sade, Counterweight is part cyberpunk, part hard-boiled detective fiction, and part parable of South Korea’s neocolonial ambition and its rippling effects. – Pantheon

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Overcoming Adversity:

Overcoming Adversity: Fiction novel with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for people 14 and older.

The Unsettled by Ayana Mathis

Two bold, utopic communities are at the heart of Ayana Mathis’s searing follow-up to her bestselling debut, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. Bonaparte, Alabama – once 10,000 glorious Black-owned acres – is now a ghost town vanishing to depopulation, crooked developers, and an eerie mist closing in on its shoreline. Dutchess Carson, Bonaparte’s fiery, tough-talking protector, fights to keep its remaining one thousand acres in the hands of the last five residents. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, her estranged daughter Ava is drawn into Ark – a seductive, radical group with a commitment to Black self-determination in the spirit of the Black Panthers and MOVE, with a dash of the Weather Underground’s violent zeal. Ava’s eleven-year-old son Toussaint wants out – his future awaits him on his grandmother’s land, where the sounds of cicada and frog song might save him if only he can make it there.

In Mathis’s electrifying novel, Bonaparte is both mythic landscape and spiritual inheritance, and 1980s Philadelphia is its raw, darkly glittering counterpoint. The Unsettled is a spellbinding portrait of two fierce women reckoning with the steep cost of resistance: What legacy will we leave our children? Where can we be free? – Knopf

This title is also available in large print.

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Rainbow Reads:

Rainbow reads: Fiction novel with LGBTQ+ main character(s).

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

Both a page-turner and literary tour de force, it is a vivid portrayal of working-class life and a deeply moving and highly suspenseful story of the dangerous first love of two young men.

Growing up in a housing estate in Glasgow, Mungo and James are born under different stars—Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic—and they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Yet against all odds, they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. And when several months later Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murky pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to try to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.

Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism and giving full voice to people rarely acknowledged in the literary world, Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the bounds of masculinity, the divisions of sectarianism, the violence faced by many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much. – Grove

This title is also available in large print.

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Stranger Things:

Stranger Things: Horror novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro

Alejandra no longer knows who she is. To her husband, she is a wife, and to her children, a mother. To her own adoptive mother, she is a daughter. But they cannot see who Alejandra has become: a woman struggling with a darkness that threatens to consume her.

Nor can they see what Alejandra sees. In times of despair, a ghostly vision appears to her, the apparition of a crying woman in a ragged white gown.

When Alejandra visits a therapist, she begins exploring her family’s history, starting with the biological mother she never knew. As she goes deeper into the lives of the women in her family, she learns that heartbreak and tragedy are not the only things she has in common with her ancestors.

Because the crying woman was with them, too. She is La Llorona, the vengeful and murderous mother of Mexican legend. And she will not leave until Alejandra follows her mother, her grandmother, and all the women who came before her into the darkness.

But Alejandra has inherited more than just pain. She has inherited the strength and the courage of her foremothers—and she will have to summon everything they have given her to banish La Llorona forever. – Del Rey

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Young Adult Fiction:

Young Adult Fiction: Fiction chapter book with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for children 14 and older.

This Town is On Fire by Pamela N. Harris

A lot is up in the air in Naomi Henry’s life: her spot as a varsity cheer flier, her classmates’ reaction to the debut of her natural hair, and her crush on the guy who’s always been like a brother to her. With so much uncertainty, she feels lucky to have a best friend like Kylie to keep her grounded. After all, they’re practically sisters—Naomi’s mom took care of Kylie and her twin brother for years.

But then a video of Kylie calling the cops on two Black teens in a shopping store parking lot goes viral. Naomi is shaken, and her town is reeling from the publicity. While Naomi tries to reckon with Kylie, the other Black students in their high school are questioning their friendship, and her former friends are wondering where this new “woke” Naomi came from. Although Naomi wants to stand by her best friend, she now can’t help but see everything in a different light.

As tensions in her town escalate, Naomi finds herself engaging in protests that are on the cusp of being illegal. And then a bomb explodes, and someone is found dead. Will Naomi be caught in the center of the blast? – Quill Tree Books

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Join Simply Held to have the newest Fiction picks automatically put on hold for you every quarter.

January’s Simply Held Fiction Picks

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 selected for January.

Diverse Debuts:

Diverse Debuts: Debut fiction novel by a BIPOC author.

Late Bloomers by Deepa Varadarajan

“I have a soft spot for underdogs. And late bloomers. You’ve told me a lot of things about yourself, so let me tell you something about me.”

After thirty-six years of a dutiful but unhappy arranged marriage, recently divorced Suresh and Lata Raman find themselves starting new paths in life. Suresh is trying to navigate the world of online dating on a website that caters to Indians and is striking out at every turn—until he meets a mysterious, devastatingly attractive younger woman who seems to be smitten with him. Lata is enjoying her newfound independence, but she’s caught off guard when a professor in his early sixties starts to flirt with her.

Meanwhile, Suresh and Lata’s daughter, Priya, thinks her father’s online pursuits are distasteful even as she embarks upon a clandestine affair of her own. And their son, Nikesh, pretends at a seemingly perfect marriage with his law-firm colleague and their young son, but hides the truth of what his relationship really entails. Over the course of three weeks in August, the whole family will uncover one another’s secrets, confront the limits of love and loyalty, and explore life’s second chances.

Charming, funny, and moving, Late Bloomers introduces a delightful new voice in fiction with the story of four individuals trying to understand how to be happy in their own lives—and as a family. – Penguin Random House

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Graphic Novel:

Graphic Novel: Fiction novel for adults of any subgenre with diverse characters depicted by color illustrations, sketches, and photographs.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

Blankets is the story of a young man coming of age and finding the confidence to express his creative voice. Craig Thompson’s poignant graphic memoir plays out against the backdrop of a Midwestern winterscape: finely-hewn linework draws together a portrait of small town life, a rigorously fundamentalist Christian childhood, and a lonely, emotionally mixed-up adolescence.

Under an engulfing blanket of snow, Craig and Raina fall in love at winter church camp, revealing to one another their struggles with faith and their dreams of escape. Over time though, their personal demons resurface and their relationship falls apart. It’s a universal story, and Thompson’s vibrant brushstrokes and unique page designs make the familiar heartbreaking all over again.

This groundbreaking graphic novel, winner of two Eisner and three Harvey Awards, is an eloquent portrait of adolescent yearning; first love (and first heartache); faith in crisis; and the process of moving beyond all of that. Beautifully rendered in pen and ink, Thompson has created a love story that lasts. – Craig Thompson

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Historical Fiction:

Historical Fiction: Historical fiction novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward

“‘Let us descend,’ the poet now began, ‘and enter this blind world.’” —Inferno, Dante Alighieri

Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.

Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader’s guide through this hellscape. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world, one teeming with spirits: of earth and water, of myth and history; spirits who nurture and give, and those who manipulate and take. While Ward leads readers through the descent, this, her fourth novel, is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation.

From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, this miracle of a novel inscribes Black American grief and joy into the very land—the rich but unforgiving forests, swamps, and rivers of the American South. Let Us Descend is Jesmyn Ward’s most magnificent novel yet, a masterwork for the ages. – Simon & Schuster

This title is also available in large print, Libby eBook, and Libby eAudiobook.

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International Fiction:

International Fiction: Fiction novel originally written in another language with BIPOC main character(s).

Pyre by Perumal Murugan; translated from the Tamil by Aniruddhan Vasudevan

From the author of One Part Woman and The Story of a Goat, both longlisted for the National Book Award for Translation, comes a poignant and startling novel about love, caste, and intolerance

Saroja and Kumaresan, a young married couple, return to Kumaresan’s family village where they hope to build a happy life. But they have a dangerous secret: Saroja is from a different caste than Kumaresan, and if the villagers find out, they will both be in danger. Will they–and their marriage–survive? – Black Cat

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Juvenile Fiction:

Juvenile Fiction: Fiction chapter book with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for children 7-11

Hope in the Valley by Mitali Perkins

Twelve-year-old Indian-American Pandita Paul doesn’t like change. She’s not ready to start middle school and leave the comforts of childhood behind. Most of all, Pandita doesn’t want to feel like she’s leaving her mother, who died a few years ago, behind. After a falling out with her best friend, Pandita is planning to spend most of her summer break reading and writing in her favorite secret space: the abandoned but majestic mansion across the street.

But then the unthinkable happens. The town announces that the old home will be bulldozed in favor of new—maybe affordable—housing. With her family on opposing sides of the issue, Pandita must find her voice—and the strength to move on—in order to give her community hope. – Farrar, Straus and Giroux

This title is also available as Libby eBook.

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Out of this World:

Out of this World: Science fiction novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei

They left Earth to save humanity. They’ll have to save themselves first.

It is the eve of Earth’s environmental collapse. A single ship carries humanity’s last hope: eighty elite graduates of a competitive program, who will give birth to a generation of children in deep space. But halfway to a distant but livable planet, a lethal bomb kills three of the crew and knocks The Phoenix off course. Asuka, the only surviving witness, is an immediate suspect.

As the mystery unfolds on the ship, poignant flashbacks reveal how Asuka came to be picked for the mission. Despite struggling through training back on Earth, she was chosen to represent Japan, a country she only partly knows as a half-Japanese girl raised in America. But estranged from her mother back home, The Phoenix is all she has left.

With the crew turning on each other, Asuka is determined to find the culprit before they all lose faith in the mission—or worse, the bomber strikes again. – Flatiron Books

This title is also available in large print.

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Overcoming Adversity:

Overcoming Adversity: Fiction novel with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for people 14 and older.

King of the Armadillos by Wendy Chin-Tanner

Victor Chin’s life is turned upside down at the tender age of 15. Diagnosed with Hansen’s disease, otherwise known as leprosy, he’s forced to leave the familiar confines of his father’s laundry business in the Bronx – the only home he’s known since emigrating from China with his older brother – to quarantine alongside patients from all over the country at a federal institution in Carville.

At first, Victor is scared not only of the disease, but of the confinement, and wants nothing more than to flee. Between treatments he dreams of escape and imagines his life as a fugitive. But soon he finds a new sense of freedom far from home – one without the pull of obligations to his family, the laundry business, or his mother back in China. Here, in the company of an unforgettable cast of characters, Victor finds refuge in music and experiences first love, jealousy, betrayal, and even tragedy. But with the promise of a life-changing cure on the horizon, Victor’s time at Carville is running out, and he has some difficult choices to make.

A page turning work of historical fiction, King of the Armadillos announces Wendy Chin-Tanner as an extraordinary new voice. Inspired by her father’s experience as a young patient at Carville, this tender novel is a captivating and lyrical exploration of the power of art. – Flatiron Books

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Rainbow Reads:

Rainbow reads: Fiction novel with LGBTQ+ main character(s).

Blackouts by Justin Torres

Out in the desert in a place called the Palace, a young man tends to a dying soul, someone he once knew briefly but who has haunted the edges of his life: Juan Gay. Playful raconteur, child lost and found and lost, guardian of the institutionalized, Juan has a project to pass along, one built around a true artifact of a book—Sex Variants: A Study of Homosexual Patterns—and its devastating history. This book contains accounts collected in the early twentieth century from queer subjects by a queer researcher, Jan Gay, whose groundbreaking work was then co-opted by a committee, her name buried. The voices of these subjects have been filtered, muted, but it is possible to hear them from within and beyond the text, which, in Juan’s tattered volumes, has been redacted with black marker on nearly every page. As Juan waits for his end, he and the narrator recount for each other moments of joy and oblivion; they resurrect loves, lives, mothers, fathers, minor heroes. In telling their own stories and the story of the book, they resist the ravages of memory and time. The past is with us, beside us, ahead of us; what are we to create from its gaps and erasures?

A book about storytelling—its legacies, dangers, delights, and potential for change—and a bold exploration of form, art, and love, Justin Torres’s Blackouts uses fiction to see through the inventions of history and narrative. A marvel of creative imagination, it draws on testimony, photographs, illustrations, and a range of influences as it insists that we look long and steadily at what we have inherited and what we have made—a world full of ghostly shadows and flashing moments of truth. A reclamation of ransacked history, a celebration of defiance, and a transformative encounter, Blackouts mines the stories that have been kept from us and brings them into the light. – Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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Stranger Things:

Stranger Things: Horror novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby

Titus Crown is the first Black sheriff in the history of Charon County, Virginia. In recent decades, quiet Charon has had only two murders. But after years of working as an FBI agent, Titus knows better than anyone that while his hometown might seem like a land of moonshine, cornbread, and honeysuckle, secrets always fester under the surface.

Then a year to the day after Titus’s election, a school teacher is killed by a former student and the student is fatally shot by Titus’s deputies. As Titus investigates the shootings, he unearths terrible crimes and a serial killer who has been hiding in plain sight, haunting the dirt lanes and woodland clearings of Charon.

With the killer’s possible connections to a local church and the town’s harrowing history weighing on him, Titus projects confidence about closing the case while concealing a painful secret from his own past. At the same time, he also has to contend with a far-right group that wants to hold a parade in celebration of the town’s Confederate history.

Charon is Titus’s home and his heart. But where faith and violence meet, there will be a reckoning. – Flatiron Books

This title is also available in large print, CD Audiobook, Libby eBook, Libby eAudiobook, and Playaway audiobook.

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Young Adult Fiction:

Young Adult Fiction: Fiction chapter book with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for children 14 and older.

Imposter Syndrome and Other Confessions of Alejandra Kim by Patricia Park

Alejandra Kim feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere.

Not at home, where Ale faces tense silence from Ma since Papi’s passing. Not in Jackson Heights, where she isn’t considered Latinx enough and is seen as too PC for her own good. Certainly not at her Manhattan prep school, where her predominantly white classmates pride themselves on being “woke”. She only has to survive her senior year before she can escape to the prestigious Whyder College, if she can get in. Maybe there, Ale will finally find a place to call her own.

The only problem with laying low— a microaggression thrusts Ale into the spotlight and into the middle of a discussion she didn’t ask for. But her usual keeping her head down tactic isn’t going to make this go away. With her signature wit and snark, Ale faces what she’s been hiding from. In the process, she might discover what it truly means to carve out a space for yourself to belong.

Imposter Syndrome and Other Confessions of Alejandra Kim is an incisive, laugh-out-loud, provocative read about feeling like a misfit caught between very different worlds, what it means to be belong, and what it takes to build a future for yourself. – Crown Books for Young Readers

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Join Simply Held to have the newest Fiction picks automatically put on hold for you every quarter.

October’s Simply Held Fiction Picks

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 October.

Diverse Debuts:

Diverse Debuts: Debut fiction novel by a BIPOC author.

We Are a Haunting by Tyriek White

A poignant debut for readers of Jesmyn Ward and Jamel Brinkley, We Are a Haunting follows three generations of a working class family and their inherited ghosts: a story of hope and transformation.

In 1980’s Brooklyn, Key is enchanted with her world, glowing with her dreams. A charming and tender doula serving the Black women of her East New York neighborhood, she lives, like her mother, among the departed and learns to speak to and for them. Her untimely death leaves behind her mother Audrey, who is on the verge of losing the public housing apartment they once shared. Colly, Key’s grieving son, soon learns that he too has inherited this sacred gift and begins to slip into the liminal space between the living and the dead on his journey to self-realization.

In the present, an expulsion from school forces Colly across town where, feeling increasingly detached and disenchanted with the condition of his community, he begins to realize that he must, ultimately, be accountable to the place he is from. After college, having forged an understanding of friendship, kinship, community, and how to foster love in places where it seems impossible, Colly returns to East New York to work toward addressing structural neglect and the crumbling blocks of New York City public housing he was born to; discovering a collective path forward from the wreckages of the past. 

A supernatural family saga, a searing social critique, and a lyrical and potent account of displaced lives, We Are a Haunting unravels the threads connecting the past, present, and future, and depicts the palpable, breathing essence of the neglected corridors of a pulsing city with pathos and poise.  – Penguin Random House

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Graphic Novel:

Graphic Novel: Fiction novel for adults of any subgenre with diverse characters depicted by color illustrations, sketches, and photographs.

Ballad for Sophie written by Filipe Melo; illustrations by Juan Cavia

A young journalist prompts a reclusive piano superstar to open up, resulting in this stunning graphic sonata exploring a lifetime of rivalry, regret, and redemption.

1933. In the small French village of Cressy-la-Valoise, a local piano contest brings together two brilliant young players: Julien Dubois, the privileged heir of a wealthy family, and François Samson, the janitor’s son. One wins, one loses, and both are changed forever.

1997. In a huge mansion stained with cigarette smoke and memories, a bitter old man is shaken by the unexpected visit of an interviewer. Somewhere between reality and fantasy, Julien composes, like in a musical score, a complex and moving story about the cost of success, rivalry, redemption, and flying pianos.

When all is said and done, did anyone ever truly win? And is there any music left to play? – Penguin Random House

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Historical Fiction:

Historical Fiction: Historical fiction novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

Skull Water by Heinz Insu Fenkl

Growing up outside a US military base in South Korea in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Insu—the son of a Korean mother and a German father enlisted in the US Army—spends his days with his “half and half” friends skipping school, selling scavenged Western goods on the black market, watching Hollywood movies, and testing the boundaries between childhood and adulthood. When he hears a legend that water collected in a human skull will cure any sickness, he vows to dig up a skull in order to heal his ailing Big Uncle, a geomancer who has been exiled by the family to a mountain cave to die.

Insu’s quest takes him and his friends on a sprawling, wild journey into some of South Korea’s darkest corners, opening them up to a fantastical world beyond their grasp. Meanwhile, Big Uncle has embraced his solitude and fate, trusting in otherworldly forces Insu cannot access. As he recalls his wartime experiences of betrayal and lost love, Big Uncle attempts to teach his nephew that life is not limited to what we can see—or think we know.

Largely autobiographical and sparkling with magical realism, Skull Water is the story of a boy coming into his own—and the ways the past haunts the present in a country on the cusp of modernity struggling to confront its troubled history. As Insu seeks the wisdom of his ancestors, what he learns, he hopes, will save not just his uncle but himself.  – Spiegel and Grau

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International Fiction:

International Fiction: Fiction novel originally written in another language with BIPOC main character(s).

Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel; translated by Rosalind Harvey

Alina and Laura are independent and career-driven women in their mid-thirties, neither of whom have built their future around the prospect of a family. Laura is so determined not to become a mother that she has taken the drastic decision to have her tubes tied. But when she announces this to her friend, she learns that Alina has made the opposite decision and is preparing to have a child of her own.

Alina’s pregnancy shakes the women’s lives, first creating distance and then a remarkable closeness between them. When Alina’s daughter survives childbirth – after a diagnosis that predicted the opposite – and Laura becomes attached to her neighbor’s son, both women are forced to reckon with the complexity of their emotions, their needs, and the needs of the people who are dependent upon them.

In prose that is as gripping as it is insightful, Guadalupe Nettel explores maternal ambivalence with a surgeon’s touch, carefully dissecting the contradictions that make up the lived experiences of women.  – Bloomsbury Publishing

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Juvenile Fiction:

Juvenile Fiction: Fiction chapter book with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for children 7-11

You Are Here: Connecting Flights by Ellen Oh

An incident at a TSA security check point sows chaos and rumors, creating a chain of events that impacts twelve young Asian Americans in a crowded and restless airport. As their disrupted journeys crisscross and collide, they encounter fellow travelers—some helpful, some hostile—as they discover the challenges of friendship, the power of courage, the importance of the right word at the right time, and the unexpected significance of a blue Stratocaster electric guitar.

Twelve powerhouse Asian American authors explore themes of identity and belonging in the entwined experiences of young people whose family roots may extend to East and Southeast Asia, but who are themselves distinctly American.

Written by Linda Sue Park, Erin Entrada Kelly, Grace Lin, Traci Chee, Mike Chen, Meredith Ireland, Mike Jung, Minh Lê, Ellen Oh, Randy Ribay, Christina Soontornvat, and Susan Tan, and edited by Ellen Oh.  – HarperCollins

This title is also available as a Playaway audiobook, Libby eBook, and Libby eAudiobook.

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Out of this World:

Out of this World: Science fiction novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

The Jasad Heir by Sara Hashem

A fugitive queen strikes a bargain with her greatest enemy that could resurrect her scorched kingdom or leave it in ashes forever in this unmissable Egyptian-inspired epic fantasy debut. Ten years ago, the kingdom of Jasad burned. Its magic was outlawed. Its royal family murdered. At least, that’s what Sylvia wants people to believe. The Heir of Jasad escaped the massacre, and she intends to stay hidden, especially from the armies of Nizahl that continue to hunt her people.

But a moment of anger changes everything. When Arin, the Nizahl Heir, tracks a group of Jasadi rebels to her village, Sylvia accidentally reveals her magic—and captures his attention. Now Sylvia’s forced to make a deal with her greatest enemy: Help him hunt the rebels in exchange for her life.

A deadly game begins. Sylvia can’t let Arin discover her identity, even as hatred shifts into something more between the Heirs. And as the tides change around her, Sylvia will have to choose between the life she wants and the one she abandoned.

The scorched kingdom is rising, and it needs a queen. – Hachette Book Group

This title is also available as a Libby eBook and Libby eAudiobook.

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Overcoming Adversity:

Overcoming Adversity: Fiction novel with diversity, equitEny, or inclusion subject matter written for people 14 and older.

Coleman Hill by Kim Coleman Foote

In 1916, during the early days of the Great Migration, Celia Coleman and Lucy Grimes flee the racism and poverty of their homes in the post–Civil War South for the “Promised Land” of Vauxhall, New Jersey. But the North possesses its own challenges and bigotries that will shape the fates of the women and their families over the next seventy years. Told through the voices of nine family members—their perspectives at once harmonious and contradictory—Coleman Hill is a penetrating multigenerational debut.

Within ten years of arriving in Vauxhall, both Celia and Lucy’s husbands are dead, and they turn to one another for support in raising their children far from home. Lucy’s gentleness sets Celia at ease, and Celia lends Lucy her fire when her friend wants to cower. Encouraged by their mothers’ friendship, their children’s lives become enmeshed as well. As the children grow into adolescence, two are caught in an impulsive act of impropriety, and Celia and Lucy find themselves at irreconcilable odds over who’s to blame. The ensuing fallout has dire consequences that reverberate through the next two generations of their families.

A stunning biomythography—a word coined by the late great writer Audre Lorde—Coleman Hill draws from the author’s own family legend, historical record, and fervent imagination to create an unforgettable new history. The result is a kaleidoscopic novel whose intergenerational arc emerges through a series of miniatures that contain worlds. – Zando Projects

This title is also available as a Libby eBook.

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Rainbow Reads:

Rainbow reads: Fiction novel with LGBTQ+ main character(s).

Homebodies  by Tembe Denton-Hurst

Mickey Hayward dreams of writing stories that matter. She has a flashy media job that makes her feel successful and a devoted girlfriend who takes care of her when she comes home exhausted and demoralized. It’s not all A-list parties and steamy romance, but Mickey’s on her way, and it’s far from the messy life she left behind in Maryland. Despite being overlooked and mistreated at work, it seems like she might finally get the chance to prove herself—until she finds out she’s being replaced.

Distraught and enraged, Mickey fires back with a detailed letter outlining the racism and sexism she’s endured as a Black woman in media, certain it will change the world for the better. But when her letter is met with overwhelming silence, Mickey is sent into a tailspin of self-doubt. Forced to reckon with just how fragile her life is—including the uncertainty of her relationship—she flees to the last place she ever dreamed she would run to, her hometown, desperate for a break from her troubles.

Back home, Mickey is seduced by the simplicity of her old life—and the flirtation of a former flame—but her life in New York refuses to be forgotten. When a media scandal catapults Mickey’s forgotten letter into the public zeitgeist, suddenly everyone wants to hear what Mickey has to say. It’s what she’s always wanted—isn’t it?

Intimate, witty, and deeply sexy, Homebodies is a testament to those trying to be heard and loved in a world that refuses to make space, and introduces a standout new writer.  – HarperCollins

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Stranger Things:

Stranger Things: Horror novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

“Some girls just don’t know how to die…”

Shirley Jackson meets Friday the 13th in My Heart Is a Chainsaw, written by the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians Stephen Graham Jones, called “a literary master” by National Book Award winner Tananarive Due and “one of our most talented living writers” by Tommy Orange.

Alma Katsu calls My Heart Is a Chainsaw “a homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.” On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life.

Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.

Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges…a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.  – Simon & Schuster

This title is also available in large print.

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Young Adult Fiction:

Young Adult Fiction: Fiction chapter book with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for children 14 and older.

Girls Like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko

It’s summertime and 17-year-old Coley has found herself alone, again. Forced to move to rural Oregon after just losing her mother, she is in no position to risk her already fragile heart. But when she meets Sonya, the attraction is immediate.

Coley worries she isn’t worthy of love. Up until now, everyone she’s loved has left her. And Sonya’s never been with a girl before. What if she’s too afraid to show up for Coley? What if by opening her heart, Coley’s risking it all?

They both realize that when things are pushed down, and feelings are forced to shrivel away, Coley and Sonya will be the ones to shrink. It’s not until they accept the love they fear and deserve most, that suddenly the song makes sense.

Based on the billboard-charting smash hit song and viral music video GIRLS LIKE GIRLS, Hayley Kiyoko’s debut novel is about embracing your truth and realizing we are all worthy of being loved back.  – Macmillan Publishers

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Join Simply Held to have the newest Fiction picks automatically put on hold for you every quarter.

July’s Simply Held Fiction Picks

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:

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.

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Graphic Novel:

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.

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Historical Fiction:

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.

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International Fiction:

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?

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Juvenile Fiction:

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?

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Out of this World:

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.

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Overcoming Adversity:

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.

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Rainbow Reads:

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.

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Stranger Things:

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.

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Young Adult Fiction:

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.

DETACHED
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.

WASTED
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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Join Simply Held to have the newest Fiction picks automatically put on hold for you every quarter.

January’s Simply Held Fiction Picks

We have rebranded our Best Sellers Club to now be called Simply Held! 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: Graphic Novel, Diverse Debuts, Rainbow Reads, Overcoming Adversity, Historical Fiction, Out of this World, Stranger Things, International Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, and Juvenile Fiction.

Below you will find information provided by the publishers and authors on the titles we have picked for January.

Diverse Debuts:

Diverse Debuts: Debut fiction novel by a BIPOC author.

Calling for a Blanket Dance by Oscar Hokeah

A moving and deeply engaging debut novel about a young Native American man finding strength in his familial identity, from a stellar new voice in fiction.

Oscar Hokeah’s electric debut takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle, whose family—part Mexican, part Native American—is determined to hold onto their community despite obstacles everywhere they turn. Ever’s father is injured at the hands of corrupt police on the border when he goes to visit family in Mexico, while his mother struggles both to keep her job and care for her husband. And young Ever is lost and angry at all that he doesn’t understand, at this world that seems to undermine his sense of safety. Ever’s relatives all have ideas about who he is and who he should be. His Cherokee grandmother, knowing the importance of proximity, urges the family to move across Oklahoma to be near her, while his grandfather, watching their traditions slip away, tries to reunite Ever with his heritage through traditional gourd dances. Through it all, every relative wants the same: to remind Ever of the rich and supportive communities that surround him, there to hold him tight, and for Ever to learn to take the strength given to him to save not only himself but also the next generation.

How will this young man visualize a place for himself when the world hasn’t made room for him to start with? Honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, Calling for a Blanket Dance is the story of how Ever Geimausaddle finds his way home.

This book is also available in the following format:

Graphic Novel:

Graphic Novel: Fiction novel for adults of any subgenre with diverse characters depicted by color illustrations, sketches, and photographs.

Who Will Make the Pancakes: Five Stories by Megan Kelso

A suite of five brilliant comics stories united by themes of motherhood, family, and love.
Who Will Make the Pancakes collects five deeply social stories by the acclaimed cartoonist Megan Kelso, exploring the connective tissue that binds us together despite our individual, interior experience. These stories, created over the past 15 years — roughly contemporaneously with the author’s own journey as a mother— wrestle with the concept of motherhood and the way the experience informs and impacts concepts of identity, racism, class, love, and even abuse. The book opens with “Watergate Sue,” originally serialized in The New York Times Magazine over six months in 2007. Spanning two generations of mothers/daughters, Eve’s obsession with Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal throughout 1973 heightens her self-doubt about whether she wants to raise more children (resonantly mirroring the anxiety many of us had while doom scrolling our way through the Trump administration). Some 30 years later, her daughter, Sue, is now grown and beginning her own family and attempting to reconcile her mother’s experience with her own.

“Cats in Service” is a contemporary fable about how a death in the family leads a young couple to adopt several cats who have been expertly trained to tend to their every need. “The Egg Room” profiles middle-aged Florence, caught between dreams of how her life might have unfolded and the shrunken reality. “The Golden Lasso” turns the focus to adolescence, using rock climbing as a set piece for a story about innocence lost, while “Korin Voss” chronicles a few months in the life of a single mother in the late 1940s.

Taken collectively, Who Will Make the Pancakes showcases Kelso’s unique voice in graphic fiction (one more in tune with writers such as Alice Munro, Sarah Waters, or Ann Patchett than most graphic novelists) and a stylistic command that tailors her approachable and warm cartooning style for each story’s needs.

Historical Fiction:

Historical Fiction: Historical fiction novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

“Within every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune, and so it goes, until the end of time.”

It is 1938 in China and, as a young wife, Meilin’s future is bright. But with the Japanese army approaching, Meilin and her four year old son, Renshu, are forced to flee their home. Relying on little but their wits and a beautifully illustrated hand scroll, filled with ancient fables that offer solace and wisdom, they must travel through a ravaged country, seeking refuge.

Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao. Though his daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, he refuses to talk about his childhood. How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down? Yet how can Lily learn who she is if she can never know her family’s story?

Spanning continents and generations, Peach Blossom Spring is a bold and moving look at the history of modern China, told through the story of one family. It’s about the power of our past, the hope for a better future, and the haunting question: What would it mean to finally be home?

This book is also available in the following format:

International Fiction:

International Fiction: Fiction novel originally written in another language with BIPOC main character(s).

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell

In northern India, an eighty-year-old woman slips into a deep depression after the death of her husband, and then resurfaces to gain a new lease on life. Her determination to fly in the face of convention – including striking up a friendship with a transgender person – confuses her bohemian daughter, who is used to thinking of herself as the more ‘modern’ of the two.

To her family’s consternation, Ma insists on travelling to Pakistan, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman, a feminist.

Rather than respond to tragedy with seriousness, Geetanjali Shree’s playful tone and exuberant wordplay results in a book that is engaging, funny, and utterly original, at the same time as being an urgent and timely protest against the destructive impact of borders and boundaries, whether between religions, countries, or genders.

Juvenile Fiction:

Juvenile Fiction: Fiction chapter book with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for children 7-11

Operation Sisterhood by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Fans of the Netflix reboot of The Babysitters Club will delight as four new sisters band together in the heart of New York City. Discover this jubilant novel about the difficulties of change, the loyalty of sisters, and the love of family from a prolific award-winning author.

Bo and her mom always had their own rhythm. But ever since they moved to Harlem, Bo’s world has fallen out of sync. She and Mum are now living with Mum’s boyfriend Bill, his daughter Sunday, the twins, Lili and Lee, the twins’ parents…along with a dog, two cats, a bearded dragon, a turtle, and chickens. All in one brownstone! With so many people squished together, Bo isn’t so sure there is room for her.

Set against the bursting energy of a New York City summer, award-winning author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich delivers a joyful novel about a new family that hits all the right notes!

Out of this World:

Out of this World: Science fiction novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

In the ancient city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness—only he doesn’t want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city’s immigrants are sworn to secrecy.

But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn’t exist, he’s put on a collision course with Bassa’s darkest secrets. Drawn into the city’s hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. And the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire.

Overcoming Adversity:

Overcoming Adversity: Fiction novel with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for people 14 and older.

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp

A YA fiction anthology showcasing stories in various genres, featuring disabled characters, and written by disabled creators. Contributors range from established NYT bestsellers to exciting debuts.

This anthology explores disability in fictional tales told from the viewpoint of disabled characters, written by disabled creators. With stories in various genres about first loves, friendship, war, travel, and more, Unbroken will offer today’s teen readers a glimpse into the lives of disabled people in the past, present, and future.

The contributing authors are awardwinners, bestsellers, and newcomers including Kody Keplinger, Kristine Wyllys, Francisco X. Stork, William Alexander, Corinne Duyvis, Marieke Nijkamp, Dhonielle Clayton, Heidi Heilig, Katherine Locke, Karuna Riazi, Kayla Whaley, Keah Brown, and Fox Benwell. Each author identifies as disabled along a physical, mental, or neurodiverse axis—and their characters reflect this diversity.

Rainbow Reads:

Rainbow reads: Fiction novel with LGBTQ+ main character(s).

Other Names for Love by Taymour Soomro

A charged, hypnotic debut novel about a boy’s life-changing summer in rural Pakistan: a story of fathers, sons, and the consequences of desire.

At age sixteen, Fahad hopes to spend the summer with his mother in London. His father, Rafik, has other plans: hauling his son to Abad, the family’s feudal estate in upcountry, Pakistan. Rafik wants to toughen up his sensitive boy, to teach him about power, duty, family—to make him a man. He enlists Ali, a local teenager, in this project, hoping his presence will prove instructive.

Instead, over the course of one hot, indolent season, attraction blooms between the two boys, and Fahad finds himself seduced by the wildness of the land and its inhabitants: the people, who revere and revile his father in turn; cousin Mousey, who lives alone with a man he calls his manager; and most of all, Ali, who threatens to unearth all that is hidden.

Decades later, Fahad is living abroad when he receives a call from his mother summoning him home. His return will force him to face the past. Taymour Soomro’s Other Names for Love is a tale of masculinity, inheritance, and desire set against the backdrop of a country’s troubled history, told with uncommon urgency and beauty.

Stranger Things:

Stranger Things: Horror novel written by a BIPOC author with BIPOC main character(s).

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Carlota Moreau: A young woman growing up on a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of a researcher who is either a genius or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: A melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: The fruits of the doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them live in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Dr. Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and, in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is both a dazzling historical novel and a daring science fiction journey.

This book is also available in the following format:

Young Adult Fiction:

Young Adult Fiction: Fiction chapter book with diversity, equity, or inclusion subject matter written for children 14 and older.

Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi

From National Book Award finalist Akwaeke Emezi comes a companion novel to the critically acclaimed PET that explores both the importance and cost of social revolution–and how youth lead the way.

After a childhood in foster care, Bitter is thrilled to have been chosen to attend Eucalyptus, a special school where she can focus on her painting surrounded by other creative teens. But outside this haven, the streets are filled with protests against the deep injustices that grip the city of Lucille.

Bitter’s instinct is to stay safe within the walls of Eucalyptus . . . but her friends aren’t willing to settle for a world that’s so far away from what they deserve. Pulled between old friendships, her artistic passion, and a new romance, Bitter isn’t sure where she belongs—in the studio or in the streets. And if she does find a way to help the revolution while being true to who she is, she must also ask: at what cost?

This timely and riveting novel—a companion to the National Book Award finalist Pet—explores the power of youth, protest, and art.

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