The May 2015 Indie Next List Preview

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Here are the titles on the May Indie Next List flier, on its way to ABA member stores in the IndieBound movement.

A downloadable PDF version of the list will also be available beginning May 1 on and

The May 2015 Indie Next Great Reads

#1 Pick: The Light of the World: A Memoir, by Elizabeth Alexander
(Grand Central Publishing, 9781455599875, $26)
“It is hard to find the right words to do justice to this very special book. Yes, it is by one of our greatest contemporary poets, Elizabeth Alexander, who wrote ‘Praise Song for the Day’ for President Obama’s first inauguration, so the language is gorgeous. And yes, it is a memoir of losing her husband at a young age and so it is, in parts, gut-wrenchingly sad. And yes, it is an ode to an extraordinary man we come to feel we know as an artist, chef, father, friend, and lover. But, above all, it is as beautiful a love story as I have ever read, and it lifts readers up and gives us hope and makes us believe. I will urge it on everyone I know.” —Carole Horne, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

Pieces of My Mother: A Memoir, by Melissa Cistaro
(Sourcebooks, 9781492615385, $24.99)
“Cistaro’s story begins with the last days of her mother’s life, 35 years after she abandoned her children and husband with no explanation. Cistaro is still seeking the truth and the one answer that she feels she needs most desperately — why did her mother leave? What is most impressive about this memoir is the honesty with which the author details her own anxieties, and readers will relate to her and cheer her on when she makes an important, life-changing decision. This is an amazing story of forgiveness, connection, understanding, and grace.” —Lynn Riehl, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

The Given World: A Novel, by Marian Palaia
(Simon & Schuster, 9781476777931, $25)
“In this fresh take on stories about the devastation that war visits on those left behind as well as on those who are sent to fight, Riley resists believing her beloved older brother never emerged from the tunnels of Cu Chi. Since his body was never found, she follows this hope from the Montana plains to Vietnam and then spirals down into the back streets of 1980s San Francisco. As Palaia details Riley’s struggle to move from denial to the eventual acceptance of reality, she portrays the starry Montana nights as vividly as the streets of Saigon and the bars of Haight-Ashbury. A brilliant debut!” —Cheryl McKeon, Book Passage, San Francisco, CA

The World Is on Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse, by Joni Tevis
(Milkweed Editions, 9781571313478, trade paper, $16)
“Peopled by both the famous and the forgotten, The World Is on Fire is a love letter to our fears and fascinations as a species. It travels delicate and complicated terrain — faith, loss, death, and infertility are just a few of its subjects — and its intimacy is devastating but also comforting. Tevis acts as a grand conductor, allowing cultural touchpoints, history, personal narrative, and the natural world to each have their turn, then orchestrating them together into a melody that is lovely, sometimes amusing, and often haunting. These ‘songs’ stayed with me long after the last note.” —Lauren Harr, Malaprop’s Bookstore, Asheville, NC

The Daylight Marriage: A Novel, by Heidi Pitlor
(Algonquin Books, 9781616203689, $24.95)
“After being together many years and having two children, Hannah and Lovell Hall are a married couple growing apart. One night they have a terrible argument in which both accusations and personal objects are thrown. The next morning the unthinkable happens and Hannah disappears. Was this her decision or someone else’s? Did her husband take an unforgivable step? The Daylight Marriage is a kinder, gentler Gone Girl with characters readers actually might want to know, a page-turner that explores the depths of human relationships as well as the consequences of even the smallest decision.” —Sharon Nagel, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Whispering Shadows: A Novel, by Jan-Philipp Sendker
(Atria/37 INK, 9781476793641, $25.99)
“The author of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats focuses again on what he knows best: the human condition. Love, trust, and friendship are exquisitely woven into a beautiful narrative that draws the reader into another world. Paul Leibovitz has made his home in Hong Kong and has had a very successful life, but a personal tragedy involving his son leaves him bereft and isolated. As he struggles to navigate the losses in his life, Paul is drawn into a mystery involving a missing American businessman. Paul and his Chinese friend, Zhang, attempt to discover the truth and are caught in a web of distrust and lies, and Chinese culture and political history play significant roles in resolving the crime. I loved it!” —Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

The Book of Aron: A Novel, by Jim Shepard
(Knopf, 9781101874318, $23.95)
“Shepard has performed a small miracle in channeling the voice of a young Jewish boy trapped in the Warsaw ghetto. He traces Aron’s progression from country bumpkin and reluctant scholar to a ‘macher’ on the streets of Warsaw, where his cunning and courage prolong the lives of his increasingly oppressed and desperate family. Aron’s story meshes with that of Janusz Korczak, well-known pediatrician, child rights advocate, and orphanage operator, when Aron is rescued from the streets after the death of all of his family members. The final scene of Korczak leading the ragtag parade of children to the train to Treblinka closes an astonishing portrayal of the Nazi evil viewed through the eyes of a very resourceful, tragic, but indefatigable child.” —Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield CT

Church of Marvels: A Novel, by Leslie Parry
(Ecco, 9780062367556, $26.99)
“In this page-turner of a debut very little is what it first appears to be. Set in Coney Island and Manhattan at the end of the 19th century, Church of Marvels is populated with carnival folk and others living on the edge of society with either much to hide or much to discover. The characters are richly drawn and their circumstances exceptionally intriguing as they seek and find the complicated truths of their lives in the dark underbelly of New York.” —Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

Girl at War: A Novel, by Sara Nović
(Random House, 9780812996340, $26)
“Set in Zagreb in 1991, just prior to the outbreak of the Croatian war for independence, Girl at War is the story of Ana, a 10-year-old tomboy who enjoys spending time with her baby sister, biking around the city with her best friend, and summering with her family and friends on the Adriatic Sea. When the civil conflict escalates, Ana is forced to grow up too quickly. Debut author Nović expertly shares an astounding story of the brutality of war, the things one does to survive, and the confusion, anger, and guilt that is left in its wake. This is page-turning storytelling!” —Dawn Rennert, The Concord Bookshop, Concord, MA

The Bone Tree: A Novel, by Greg Iles
(William Morrow, 9780062311115, $27.99)
“After leaving readers on the edge of their seats at the end of Natchez Burning, Iles hits the ground running and picks up the pace in The Bone Tree. Penn Cage is alive for now but not unscathed as the dark secrets of the past continue to threaten his family, his town, and the very fabric of all that he thought he knew. Iles has written an intense, tightly plotted narrative with more than one shocking turn of events that will have readers racing to finish, but then pining away for the third installment of this massive and electrifying trilogy.” —Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Where They Found Her: A Novel, by Kimberly McCreight
(Harper, 9780062225467, $26.99)
“The subject matter of this novel is pretty dark and chilling, but McCreight has done an excellent job of weaving a haunting story of expectation and loss. When a university town is rocked by infanticide, everyone becomes a suspect. A newbie reporter for the local paper is assigned to cover the story, but a traumatic experience in her past makes it hit a little too close to home. With everyone in town under a microscope, past wounds are reopened and long-buried secrets are revealed. This is a riveting story that kept me guessing until the end.” —Teresa Steele, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO

How to Start a Fire: A Novel, by Lisa Lutz
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544411630, $25)
How to Start a Fire integrates Lutz’s trademark humor, quippy dialog, and quirky characters with a story of three college friends who meet in Santa Cruz in 1993. Readers will fall in love with these three women as they experience failed marriages, career decisions, and other significant life events. Those who are new to Lutz will gobble up this standalone entry and then race to their bookstore to begin reading about the Spellman family in her earlier bestselling series.” —Terry Gilman, Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, San Diego, CA

The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
(Gallic Books, 9781908313867, trade paper, $14.95)
“Parisian journalist Laurain delightfully proved his fiction-writing prowess with The President’s Hat. Mistaken identities and twists of fate figure once again in this charming love story of a woman who is mugged and badly hurt and the bookseller who finds her purse and, for reasons he can’t explain, embarks on a journey to find her and return the handbag and its contents. Set against the backdrop of the small bookstores and arrondissements of Paris, and featuring recent Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano, this is a story that is sure to please.” —Anne Holman, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

The Turner House: A Novel, by Angela Flournoy
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544303164, $23)
“The greatest testament to the skill of a writer is the ability to make what might seem alien to the reader completely recognizable and utterly engaging. Such was my experience reading The Turner House. Mine is a tiny white family from a small town with no sense of heritage, yet every moment I spent with the Turners — a family of 13 children shaped by the Great Migration to Detroit — I felt at home. Their struggles and joys are universal, yet told with an exacting eye that always finds the perfect detail. This is a truly impressive debut.” —Kim Fox, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI

Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel, by Jessica Knoll
(Simon & Schuster, 9781476789637, $25)
“Ani FaNelli has worked hard to become the girl who succeeded. She has the right job, the right clothes, the right address, and even Mr. Right. It doesn’t matter that it only works on the surface; the appearance is what will protect you when the truth comes out. Knoll has created a distinctly fierce and driven main character whose past is defined by a particularly modern kind of tragedy. The details are slowly revealed as Ani maneuvers her way up through the lingering trauma of this devastating teenage experience. I was caught up in an exciting mixture of suspicion, pity, and admiration for Ani, as Knoll explores whether that which does not kill us might make us stronger, and if the scars can ever fade away.” —Kerry Spaulding, University Book Store, Mill Creek, WA

The Wonder Garden, by Lauren Acampora
(Grove Press, 9780802123558, $25)
“This collection of interlinked short stories is one of the best I’ve read in years. How many of us have often wondered what is going on inside our neighbors’ houses? Acampora explores it all — the hopes, dreams, arguments, perversities, and disappointments. Though set in affluent, suburban western Connecticut, the stories’ deeper themes are universal — think Chekhov and Cheever. Often dark, sad, and funny, and always intelligent and well-written, these stories leave the reader yearning for more by this wonderful new writer.”  —Bob Smith, UConn Co-op Bookstore at Storrs Center, Storrs, CT

The Green Road: A Novel, by Anne Enright
(W.W. Norton, 9780393248210, $26.95)
“Steeped in the moist earth of Ireland, this is the story of the Madigan family and the life that forces them apart, only to return again to a home filled with memories. Rosaleen suffers greatly at the loss of her four children — not to death, but to lives of their own: her eldest to New York, another to Mali, one daughter to a hospital career, and another to the ‘big city’ of Dublin. The concept of ‘family’ still holds them together despite years and circumstances, and as Rosaleen announces plans to sell the family home, a last Christmas gathering proves profound.” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Every Fifteen Minutes, by Lisa Scottoline
(St. Martin’s Press, 9781250010117, $27.99)
“Have you ever read a book that stayed with you during the day while you were working, going about your daily routine? A book that made you want to turn on the news to see what was happening in the characters’ lives — even though you knew that you were just reading a novel? Scottoline’s latest, Every Fifteen Minutes, made me do just that! The story of Chief of Psychiatry Eric Parish, his troubled patient, Max, and a murder for which Dr. Parish is suddenly seen as a ‘person of interest,’ along with other trumped-up charges against him, will not let readers put this book down until the stunning conclusion.” —Nona Camuel, CoffeeTree Books, Morehead, KY

The Memory Painter: A Novel, by Gwendolyn Womack
(Picador, 9781250053039, $26)
“Most of us can’t remember our early childhood. What if, thanks to a powerful experimental pharmaceutical, you could access ancient memories — not your own, but other people’s — and acquire their skill sets and languages, too? Neurogenetics may be a new frontier, but for artist Bryan Pierce, it’s not about a drug, it’s all about dreams — dreams in which he might be re-experiencing lives stretching back millennia and gaining dangerous knowledge. Womack couples modern science with imaginative concepts of time, history, and myth in this masterful debut.” —Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ

The Last Bookaneer: A Novel, by Matthew Pearl
(Penguin Press, 9781594204920, $27.95)
“An adventure, a mystery, an historical fiction — this exciting read defies categorization. With quirky and engaging characters who are at once villains, crooks, and heroes, along with exotic locations, literary figures, fast-paced action, and a surprise ending, this novel has something for everyone. Changing copyright laws spell the end of the line for career book thieves and spies, and a race against time and competitors makes for a story that is hard to put down. This will be another bestseller for Pearl!” —Coleen Colwell, BookSmart, Morgan Hill, CA

The May 2015 Now in Paperback

Flying Shoes: A Novel, by Lisa Howorth (Bloomsbury, 9781620403037, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

Herbie’s Game: A Junior Bender Mystery, by Timothy Hallinan (Soho Crime, 9781616955403, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Lisa Wright, Oblong Books & Music, Millerton, NY

The Invention of Wings: A Novel, by Sue Monk Kidd (Penguin Books, 9780143121701, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Lynn Pellerito Riehl, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

Last Night at the Blue Angel: A Novel, by Rebecca Rotert (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062315298, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Arsen Kashkashian, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

Leaving Time: A Novel, by Jodi Picoult (Ballantine Books, 9780345544940, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Deb Fliegel, River Lights Bookstore, Dubuque, IA

A Man Called Ove: A Novel, by Fredrik Backman (Atria Books, 9781476738024, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Rene Kirkpatrick, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, WA

Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir, by Alan Cumming (Dey Street Books, 9780062225078, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Demi Marshall, Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC

The Queen of the Tearling: A Novel, by Erika Johansen (Harper Paperbacks, 9780062290380, $12.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Jerry Brown, The Bookstore, Radcliff, KY

The Sea Inside, by Philip Hoare (Melville House, 9781612194363, $17.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Brian Boecki, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, MI

That Night: A Novel, by Chevy Stevens (St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250066831, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Janice Hunsche, Kaleidosaurus Books, Metamora, IN

We Are Called to Rise: A Novel, by Laura McBride (Simon & Schuster, 9781476738970, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Andrea Avantaggio, Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, CO

Wonderland: A Novel, by Stacey D’Erasmo (Mariner Books, 9780544483897, $14.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Josh Christie, Sherman’s Books & Stationery, Bar Harbor, ME