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    Indies Introduce Winter / Spring 2017

    Independent Booksellers’ Debut Picks of the Season

    Do what indies do best—find and showcase undiscovered authors and compelling books. Two panels of booksellers chose the Indies Introduce titles—10 adult and 10 children’s—as the best of the Winter/Spring 2017 debuts. Publishers offer special terms on these books just for participating indie booksellers.

    " I felt like a pioneer book explorer!  Each day brings another adventure. Just think I may have been part of the discovery of the new J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins!"
    Hannah Moushabeck from Odyssey Books, South Hadley, MA

    Promotional terms are visible to logged-in ABA Bookseller Members only.

    Fiction

    • History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund
      Atlantic Monthly Press, 9780802125873, January 3, 2017 (Fiction)

      From the very second I began reading Fridlund’s debut novel, History of Wolves, I was captivated and excited. You just know when you have something truly special in your hands. The voice of 14-year-old protagonist Linda reaches out and grabs you by the throat. This is a debut author immensely talented and fully in command of her craft.

      – Susan Hans O’Connor, Penguin Bookshop (Sewickley, PA)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • The Futures, Anna Pitoniak
      Lee Boudreaux Books, 9780316354172, January 17, 2017 (Fiction)

      “Julie and Evan, a young couple just out of college, move to New York looking for success and for a place to establish themselves. Their relationship is rocked in the crucible of the big city in a time of financial crisis. I guess one can call it a coming-of-age novel for uncertain times, but it’s one that feels honest and even cathartic because it doesn’t flinch at the complicated and messy ways we relate to each other, especially to those we love. Pitoniak is an astute, unflinching, and sensitive observer of both the tender and terrible dynamics of young love, and she has given us a novel about coming of age in New York and in the 21st century that manages to feel both intimate and familiar. The Futures is a terrific debut from a talented author!” 

      – Dale Zapata, The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles, CA)


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    • Rabbit Cake, Annie Hartnett
      Tin House, 9781941040560, March 7, 2017 (Fiction)

      Rabbit Cake details the grief observed, explained, suffered, and experienced by a 12-year-old girl from a memorably zany family. Elvis Babbitt is a precocious child who copes with her sleepwalking mother until her death. Afterwards, Elvis finds solace in her dog, Boomer, her dad’s parrot, and her crazy sister. But she struggles to explain her mother’s death (‘I didn’t believe Mom could be gone completely when there was so much of her left everywhere…’) and finally visits her school psychologist, who helps her chart out her 18 months of grief — an achievable goal for a young woman with a scientific bent. What an unusual collection of characters in this very touching coming-of-age story.

      – Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common (Ridgefield, CT)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • Double Dutch, Laura Trunkey
      Astoria/ House of Anansi Press, 9781770898776, March 14, 2017 (Fiction)

      A young refugee boy who may or may not be the lead in the Second Coming but who is definitely the answer to one failing church’s prayers; an otherwise unremarkable man who is conscripted to be Ronald Reagan’s double and takes his job a little too seriously; six sisters, not all of whom are among the living, who turn their family homestead into a highly irregular hospice and become romantically entangled with their patients, both living and newly dead —Trunkey’s remarkable debut collection of stories, Double Dutch, circles life’s mysteries from unexpected vantage points in these plausibly fantastic stories. I can’t wait to see what she does next. If you enjoy Flannery O’Connor, Jennifer Egan (A Visit From the Goon Squad), Karen Russell (Swamplandia), or simply great writing that surprises and entertains, you will find something to love in these stories by a gifted young writer.

      – Kris Kleindienst, Left Bank Books (St. Louis, MO)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • Temporary People, Deepak Unnikrishnan
      Restless Books, 9781632061423, March 14, 2017 (Fiction)

      In this debut, author Unnikrishnan shares stories of laborers brought to the United Arab Emirates to do menial and everyday jobs. These people have no rights and no fallback if they have problems or health issues in that land. The laborers in Temporary People are sewn back together when they fall, are abandoned in the desert if they become inconvenient, and are even grown from seeds. As a collection of short stories, this is fantastical, imaginative, funny, and, even more so, scary, powerful, and ferocious.

      – Becky Milner, Vintage Books (Vancouver WA)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time, Andrew Forsthoefel
      Bloomsbury, 9781632867001, April 4, 2017 (Fiction)

      This book could not be coming at a better time. Amidst a calamitous political landscape, Americans today seem wary of their fellow citizens and suspicious of one another’s beliefs, religion, and ethnicity. Forsthoefel does an amazingly wonderful job showing us that our fellow citizens are not to be feared, but instead are to be celebrated for their humanity and their heart. Setting off to walk across the country after graduating college, Forsthoefel aims to get to know the people in the world by taking the time to listen to as many people who cross his path. And the stories he brings us of the individuals he meets along the way, in addition to his own personal journey, are insightful and ultimately uplifting. A thoughtful and inspiring portrait of America today. 

      – Hilary Gustafson, Literati Bookstore (Ann Arbor, MI)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • The Leavers, Lisa Ko
      Algonquin, 9781616206888, May 2, 2017 (Fiction)

      Deming Guo is a  12-year-old, Chinese-American Bronx naitve. When his mother abandons him without warning, he thinks he will be able to make a life with his mother's friend and her son.  But when that friend gives him up to foster care and he is shipped off to live with white university professors in upstate New York, his life is turned on end once again.  This is a beautifully-written, searing exploration of identity and dislocation.  It is a profoundly American story  and a compulsively fascinating read. I loved it!

      – Kris Kleindienst, Left Bank Books (St. Louis, MO)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    Non-Fiction

    • The Best We Could Do, Thi Bui
      ABRAMS ComicArts, 9781419718779, March 7, 2017 (Non-Fiction)

      Bui’s graphic memoir is outstanding. As the story of Bui’s life unfolds, from the birth of her child to the dark days of her own childhood in war-torn Vietnam, the reader is drawn in more and more by the poetry of the words as well as the gorgeous black-and-white drawings. The Best We Could Do, a story about the power of family and place and home, is poignant and heart-wrenching, timely, and ultimately uplifting. What an exciting new talent we have in store!

      – Susan Hans O’Connor, Penguin Bookshop (Sewickley, PA)


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    • The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, Dan Egan
      WW Norton, 9780393246438, March 7, 2017 (Non-Fiction)

      The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is the most evenhanded piece of ecological writing I’ve come across in a long time. It is an excellent account of the effects humankind has upon nature, in this case the Great Lakes, and of nature’s own resiliency. 

      – Pete Mock, McIntyre's Books (Pittsboro, NV)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • The Outrun, Amy Liptrot
      WW Norton, 9780393608960, April 25, 2017 (Non-Fiction)

      Escaping to London from her isolated Orkney Island home, Liptrot self-medicates through her 20s until she has lost her lover and most of her friends and belongings. She questions her sanity. From reflecting on her upbringing by a bipolar father and a very religious mother to the bitter and occasionally hazy kaleidoscope of events in London and the eventual need to search for healing, The Outrun is Liptrot’s health and spiritual journey. Liptrot’s voice is so strong and so true, it is impossible not to care about her. Stumbling to understand her alcoholic choices and looking for change, she returns to the isles. In The Outrun, which is part personal revelations, part Orcadian history, and part nature observations, Liptrot chooses a mostly solitary life, using technology to stay in touch and to explore the isles. The minute-by-minute struggle to stay sober counterbalances the ebb and flow of the ocean and winds and the passing seasons. This debut is striking and compelling. I was enthralled by Liptrot’s descriptions of the islands, their history, geology, and living beings. I rooted for her recovery and personal discoveries.

      – Becky Milner, Vintage Books (Vancouver, WA)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    Middle Grade

    • The Ethan I Was Before, Ali Standish
      HarperCollins Children's Books, 9780062433381, January 24, 2017 (Middle Grade)

      The Ethan I Was Before is quietly engaging, heartfelt, and authentic. Sometimes the most meaningful books are not the ones that hit you over the head with issues and drama, but the ones that slowly unfold to tell you a personal story. Standish does just that, through a unique setting and well-drawn cast of supporting characters.

      – Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill, NC)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • How to Stage a Catastrophe, Rebecca Donnelly
      Capstone Young Readers, 9781623708078, April 1, 2017 (Middle Grade)

      Hey kids, Let's put on a show! Calling all former theatre nerds, entrepreneurs, and kids with moxie! We all want to be a part of this gang of friends who unite to save the Juicebox Theater, solve a mystery, and probably achieve world domination. The fast, funny, conversational script style of this middle grade novel draws in young readers and adults alike. It's a perfect "giggle aloud" read for a classroom or backstage with a flashlight.

      – Cynthia Compton, 4 Kids Books (Zionsville, IN)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • The Prisoner of Ice and Snow, Ruth Lauren
      Bloomsbury Children's, 9781681191317, April 4, 2017 (Middle Grade)

      Valor has a plan.  She will almost shoot the prince, get herself sent to prison, find her sister, and break her out. What could go wrong? The first part of her plan goes perfectly, but Valor soon realizes that there is more to this prison, and to her sister’s imprisonment, than meets the eye. Full of satisfying twists and turns, not to mention a unique matriarchal society, Valor’s tale will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

      – Molly Olivo, Barstons Child’s Play (Washington, DC)


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    • The Star Thief, Lindsey Becker
      Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316348560, April 11, 2017 (Middle Grade)

      Sky pirates! I repeat: sky pirates! When young protagonist Honorine finds herself swept away on an adventure to the literal stars, she shows us a fantastical world where magic and science swirl together in a bubbly concoction of steampunk goodness. From a fleet of mechanical flying pirate ships to a collection of constellations come to life, this debut has all the ingredients for the beginning of a wonder-filled adventure series. 

      – Bill Grace, Buttonwood Books & Toys (Cohasset, MA)


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    • Lemons, Melissa Savage
      Crown Books for Young Readers, 9781524700126, May 2, 2017 (Middle Grade)

      When Lemonade Liberty Witt is forced to move from San Francisco to Willow Creek, California, she is not sure how to handle all of the Bigfoot excitement, small town weirdness, and meeting her grandfather for the first time. In the spirit of making lemonade, Lem takes a job assisting the inquisitive and friendly Tobin, a local Bigfoot investigator, on his search to catch Bigfoot on film. Through her investigations of the town and Bigfoot, Lem might just find the answer to some very big questions, as well as the location of the nearest Bigfoot. Melissa Savage has managed to distill all of the grief of a major loss, the joy of discovery, and the fear of rebuilding into one magnificent middle-grade novel. Lemons is not to be missed. 

      – Molly Olivo, Barstons Child’s Play (Washington, DC)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    Young Adult

    • City of Saints and Thieves, Natalie Anderson
      G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 9780399547584, January 10, 2017 (Young Adult)

      Tina does not exist. This is her express wish, as thieves who are seen are caught and Tina cannot afford to be so careless. She has a killer to catch. Thus we are introduced to the protagonist of Anderson’s thrilling City of Saints and Thieves, a novel set in the teeming and cacophonous Sangui City, Kenya. We discover that Tina’s mother was murdered and the culprit is Tina’s next target. But knowing who killed her mother does not prepare Tina for why, a revelation that will shape the rest of her life. Anderson’s ensemble of characters is dazzling in its scope and depth, a skill that is only exceeded by her crafting of Tina. Resourceful and loyal, Tina is a young woman burdened by the mantle of adulthood too soon who does whatever she must to outsmart her enemies, avenge her mother, and protect herself. This is a powerful narrative that explores human resilience and loyalty in the face of unspeakable oppression.

      – Romy Griepp, Once Upon a Time (Montrose CA)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • Daughter of the Pirate King, Tricia Levenseller
      Feiwel & Friends, 9781250095961, February 21, 2017 (Young Adult)

      There is well-written pirate adventure, fantasy fiction, and young adult romance, and then there is this gem that manages to do all three at once. In Daughter of the Pirate King, Levenseller introduces readers to the dangerously cunning Alosa through a fight scene in the first chapter. Within five pages, we are given the thrilling start to an exemplary narrative that ends with an unbelievable twist. Alosa is incredibly portrayed as both a kickass heroine and a maturing young woman, a dual characterization that is admirable and believable. She is thrust into a maritime feud between her father, lord apparent over the pirate world, and two orphaned brothers attempting to make their own mark. In between sword fights and swooning, Levenseller gives us insight into Alosa’s bravery in not just navigating perilous waters but understanding her own power. This is an exemplary reminder of how fantasy can relate to our own lives, especially to those who struggle for self-expression.

      – Romy Griepp, Once Upon a Time (Montrose, CA)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • The Beast Is an Animal, Peternelle van Arsdale
      Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781481488419, March 7, 2017 (Young Adult)

      Using simple but evocative language, van Arsdale weaves a dark fairy tale featuring a heroine and a beast who are neither as simply good or as simply evil as such characters in these stories often are. There’s a love story (but not with the beast — this is not a Beauty and the Beast retelling), but it doesn’t really enter the narrative until close to the end and never devolves into some lurid love triangle or angsty drama. One of the things I enjoyed most about this was the way even the soul-eaters were given backstory and made sympathetic. They weren’t evil to start with, but were made that way by the assumptions of those around them and the stories that were told about them. This is, ultimately, a story about stories and how the tales we tell about ourselves and others shape who we and they become.

      – Billie Bloebaum, Third Street Books (McMinnville, OR)


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    • You're Welcome, Universe, Whitney Gardner
      Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780399551413, March 7, 2017 (Young Adult)

      Julia might be deaf, but that hasn’t held her back in her graffiti art, or in life, until she gets turned in for vandalizing her school to save her best friend from humiliation. She gets kicked out and finds herself the only deaf kid in a hearing school and without a best friend. In the midst of all this chaos, she uses her graffiti skills to claim her place in her new environment. When she is thrust into a graffiti war, she must decide how far she is willing to take things. Julia is not always likable, but you will spend the book rooting for her anyway. Gardner has managed to make a very specific and angst-filled story universally appealing and lovable. She gets bonus points for her well-researched depiction of deaf culture. 

      – Molly Olivo, Barstons Child’s Play (Washington, DC)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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    • Grendel's Guide to Love and War, A.E. Kaplan
      Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780399555541, April 18, 2017 (Young Adult)

      Tom Grendel cannot catch a break. His long-time crush, Willow, has moved into the house next door, Willow's brother (a bro if ever there was one) has started throwing wild parties every night, and Tom's dad, an Iraq war veteran, is suffering from PTSD triggered by the noise from the parties. What's an introverted young lawn-mower to do? Retaliate, of course, with the help of his best friend, college-age sister, and an artisinal pig farm...This couldn't possibly end badly...With shades of John Green and Jesse Andrews (without the rip-your-heart-out tragedy), this novel will delight new and old fans of contemporary YA alike.

      – Emily Hall, Main Street Books (St. Charles, MO)
      Additional blurb(s) available here


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