Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (£2.99)
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears.
It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands.
A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.
The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice (98p)
Country girl Tara is whisked off to Sixties London to become a pop star; there she is dressed, she is shown off at Chelsea parties, photographed by the best.
She meets songwriters, singers, designers, and records her song, and falls in love.
But behind the buzz and excitement of her success, concern about her beautiful, wild sister Lucy and the bitter relationship with their friend Matilda haunts Tara.
Their past friendship is broken, and among the deceptions and the strangeness of both their marriages, the buried secrets keep on reappearing.
The brilliant new world of fashion and music, of mini skirts and rock ‘n’ roll, of the Marquee Club and The Palladium, is also one of love and heartache.
American Rust by Philipp Meyer (£1.99)
Set in a beautiful but economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town, American Rust is a novel of the lost American dream and the desperation—as well as the acts of friendship, loyalty, and love—that arise from its loss. From local bars to trainyards to prison, it is the story of two young men, bound to the town by family, responsibility, inertia, and the beauty around them, who dream of a future beyond the factories and abandoned homes.
Left alone to care for his aging father after his mother commits suicide and his sister escapes to Yale, Isaac English longs for a life beyond his hometown. But when he finally sets out to leave for good, accompanied by his temperamental best friend, former high school football star Billy Poe, they are caught up in a terrible act of violence that changes their lives forever.
Evoking John Steinbeck’s novels of restless lives during the Great Depression, American Rust takes us into the contemporary American heartland at a moment of profound unrest and uncertainty about the future. It is a dark but lucid vision, a moving novel about the bleak realities that battle our desire for transcendence and the power of love and friendship to redeem us.
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell (£1.99)
Meet Ree Dolly. Not since Mattie Ross stormed her way through Arkansas in True Grit has a young girl so fiercely defended her loved ones.
Sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly has grown up in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks and belongs to a large extended family. On a bitterly cold day, Ree, who takes care of her two younger brothers as well as her mother, learns that her father has skipped bail. If he fails to appear for his upcoming court date on charges of cooking crystal meth, his family will lose their house, the only security they have.
Winter’s Bone is the story of Ree’s quest to bring her father back, alive or dead. Her goal had been to leave her messy world behind and join the army, where “everybody had to help keep things clean.” But her father’s disappearance forces her to first take on the outlaw world of the Dolly family. Ree’s plan is elemental and direct: find her father, teach her little brothers how to fend for themselves, and escape a downward spiral of misery. Asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake, but Ree perseveres.
She learns that what she had long considered to be the burdens imposed on her by her family are, in fact, the responsibilities that give meaning and direction to her life.
Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O’Porter (£1.85)
It’s the mid-1990s, and fifteen year-old Guernsey schoolgirls, Renée and Flo, are not really meant to be friends. Thoughtful, introspective and studious Flo couldn’t be more different to ambitious, extroverted and sexually curious Renée. But Renée and Flo are united by loneliness and their dysfunctional families, and an intense bond is formed. Although there are obstacles to their friendship (namely Flo’s jealous ex-best friend and Renée’s growing infatuation with Flo’s brother), fifteen is an age where anything can happen, where life stretches out before you, and when every betrayal feels like the end of the world. For Renée and Flo it is the time of their lives.
With graphic content and some scenes of a sexual nature, PAPER AEROPLANES is a gritty, poignant, often laugh-out-loud funny and powerful novel. It is an unforgettable snapshot of small-town adolescence and the heart-stopping power of female friendship.