This March, we’re experiencing longer days and more time at home. So, why not consider these upcoming books for a new kind of journey? There are other ways to explore the world that don’t require trains, planes, or automobiles. Stay safe and healthy this month, fellow travelers.
Layoverland by Gabby Noone
It all happens quickly: Bea, a brash teenager, gets killed in a car accident. Immediately following, she’s on a plane headed to purgatory, where she must stay (and work) until further notice. There, Bea is tasked with ushering thousands of fellow dead people like herself—those stuck in a hellish limbo—into heaven, the ultimate afterlife destination. But, as any delicious YA novel would have it, one of Bea’s assignees is Caleb, the guy to blame for the car wreck that killed them both. Thing is, she also kind of falls in love with him. What are these dead teens to do? For a book on the lighthearted side, Layoverland is super fun, easy to read, highly imaginative, and all sorts of clever. Naturally, we recommend this book for your own layover.
Under the Rainbow by Celia Laskey
A group of LGBTQIA+ activists willingly move to the small fictional town of Big Burr, Kansas after it’s labeled the most homophobic place in the U.S.—all for the ambitious challenge of changing people’s minds about queer folx. Every chapter, which focuses on a different narrator, unfolds so insanely well that you quickly get absorbed in the big drama of these small-town lives (such is the case when you live in a place where everyone knows each other’s business). There’s the teenaged daughter of lesbians who gets involved in a hate crime; the married gay man who cruises on hookup apps; the numbed woman who grieves the untimely death of her son; and more. While there are plenty of brutalities that these characters confront, Under the Rainbow is a purely empathetic novel at its core.
Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis' Fleet-of-Foot Girl
by Megan Reid & illustrated by Laura Freeman
Before Serena Williams, there was Althea Gibson. As a tall black woman from Harlem with a larger-than-life attitude, the tennis legend was impossible to ignore both on and off the court for playing a sport that was typically reserved for white-only clubs during her time. Though her legacy has gone largely unnoticed since her death, Gibson finally gets some much-deserved recognition this year in picture-book form. In it, author Megan Reid celebrates Gibson’s meteoric rise to winning the Glam Slam at Wimbledon, and the French, Australian, and U.S. Opens (the first black person to do so) in joyous language for young readers. And, if your child can’t read yet, there are plenty of beautiful illustrations to marvel at, too.
The Herd by Andrea Bartz
Looking for a beach read to accompany your spring break escape? Look no further. When Eleanor, the founder of a New York-based beauty startup and women’s coworking space (called The HERd, get it?) goes missing, it’s up to her closest friends to get to the bottom of her disappearance. Enter Hana and Katie, two sisters who’ve known Eleanor since childhood, and friend and fellow Herder, Mikki. Once the trio starts digging for answers, they learn that not everything in Eleanor’s past is millennial pink. But Katie, Hana, and Mikki have their own secrets to protect, and the question becomes just how far they’ll go to do so. It’s an Agatha Christie mystery for the Glossier generation, and enough fun to make time evaporate in a cloud of statement perfume. (Out 3/27)
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandeln
In her follow-up to 2014’s lauded Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel transports us to the luxurious Hotel Caiette, located on a remote island in British Columbia, where wayward addict Paul and his half-sister Vincent work service jobs. One fateful day in 2005, their paths cross with Joseph Alkaitis, an aging money mogul from New York with a soft spot for the locale. Not long after, Vincent takes up the role of Alkaitis’s much younger wife, earning her new citizenship in New York City’s “kingdom of money,” which exists worlds away from her youth. What follows is a time-hopping portrait of family, loss, greed, and ghosts—a study of the effect our lives leave on everyone around us, whether we’re aware of it or not. It's a novel that'll have you consider the lives of fellow travelers that pass you by, in search of the deeper stories they carry within. (Out 3/24)
New Waves by Kevin Nguyen
Kevin Nguyen’s debut novel is an absorbing exploration of friendship, social media, and big data in the 21st-century office space. Lucas is a customer support worker at a startup who finds solace with his coworker and best friend, an engineer named Margo. Together, they spend hours after work cheerfully downing beers and swapping stories of workplace microaggressions (Margo is black, Lucas is Asian), colleagues they can’t stand, and plans for the future. When Margot unexpectedly dies, a grieving Lucas is left alone with a secret he and Margo shared—and the task of deleting his late friend’s Facebook account. At home with her laptop, Lucas embarks on a journey through Margo’s imaginative online life that he never expected. New Waves is a warm, surprising meditation on what it means to really know someone (and what it means to know yourself), set against a realistic depiction of the weird world that is the startup scene. (Out 3/10)