There’s nothing quite like grabbing a book by a first-time author who doesn’t have a large following and thinking, “this book is going to be the next big thing.” Debuts hold a special place in the writing world because they’re an introduction to new talent – a breath of fresh air.
Don’t let these debuts pass you by – pick up one (or several) of these mesmerizing reads, and get utterly lost in a newly fabricated fictional world. Spanning thrillers, romance, and historical and literary fiction, there’s a book for every kind of reader in the list below.
This fearless debut novel reminds us of the struggles that immigrants face, and the consequent troubles experienced by their children. The book begins with a woman, Elsie, who found love in a married man who left Albania to chase his dreams in America. When Elsie finds out she’s pregnant, everything changes. This is the story of a mother and her daughter, with a relationship that’s strained by secrets of the past and the uncertainty of the future – an American Dream story and all the stark realities that come with it.
Zach Taylor, the six-year-old narrator of this compelling story, is squeezed tightly in a closet with his classmates as they listen to gunshots ringing through the hallways of their elementary school. A gunman entered the building, and took nineteen lives. While adults in the community are demanding justice against the shooter’s parents, Zach sets out on a journey towards forgiveness. Perfect for the fans of Room, this timely, heart-wrenching novel demonstrates the keen insight of young children, and how deep compassion and understanding can be found in even the darkest of times.
Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, so they’ve seen each other through the ups and downs of life. Now they’re doctors, happily married, with families of their own, leading fulfilling lives. Put simply, life is good for Zadie and Emma. But when Nick Xenokostas – a former colleague – returns to town, secrets from the past are unearthed. Both women are forced to take a look back at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers, and ultimately, examine their friendship with a new perspective.
Jasmine Guillory’s debut novel, The Wedding Date, is an addictive romance that takes readers on a journey through a sweet love story. Alexa and Drew meet unexpectedly when an elevator gets stuck. Drew desperately needs a date to his ex-girlfriend’s wedding, and seizes the opportunity to ask Alexa in the elevator. Alexa agrees to go (Drew is pretty charming) and pretends to be his girlfriend. What follows is a charming story brimming with conflict, passion, and perseverance.
Jasmin Darznik’s captivating debut centers on Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, who rebelled against society’s constraints to find her voice and her destiny. As a girl, Forugh was always taught to be quiet and modest, and to do what she was told. But as Forugh reached her teenage years, her passion for poetry burned stronger than ever before, and she strayed farther and farther away from her parents’ expectations. After being forced into marriage, Forugh runs away seeking the freedom to write with a power that’s strong enough to inspire generations of Iranian women to come.
Aidan Waits is assigned an impossible mission: He must infiltrate the inner circle of Zain Carver – a dangerous and manipulative criminal – in an effort to save Isabelle Rossiter, a runaway politician’s daughter. Though the task at hand is daunting, Aidan is a natural survivor and sets off to save the day. But as events unfold, Aidan finds himself wondering if Zain is really the one responsible for Isabelle’s disappearance, and as time ticks away, he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to save Isabelle before it’s too late.
This riveting debut follows Venus Black, a young woman who committed a shocking crime that destroyed her world and tore her family apart. After serving five years in prison, Venus is completely on her own, determined to escape her dark past and reshape her identity. As she sets out to make a fresh start in Seattle, she finds herself haunted by memories of the past, and struggles to heal the wounds that she wishes weren’t there in the first place. This story is about love and betrayal, the meaning of family, and the fine line between right and wrong that we all tread.
Elizabeth J. Church
All the Beautiful Girls is a powerful novel about Lily Decker – a daring showgirl in 1960s Las Vegas who is trying to pave a bright future for herself after suffering from a traumatizing childhood accident that resulted in the loss of her parents and her sister. Lily’s only solace for her grief is dance, and once she’s all grown up, she changes her name to Ruby Wilde and sets out for Las Vegas to pursue her dream. Her beauty lands her a job as a showgirl – a career that teaches her about sadness, love, power, and the difficulties that come with being a woman in a man’s world.
This brilliantly written short story collection exposes the constant internal war that veterans face, even after they come home. Will Mackin draws from his many deployments with a special operations task force in Iraq and Afghanistan to create a remarkable portrait of life as a soldier, exposing the highs and lows of being involved in war. Will’s stories provide insight to the unknown details of being a soldier, from the tragedy and heroism, to the degradation and exultation.
Before she disappeared, Alexandra Southwood lived an average, happy life; she had two loving daughters and a great husband. Now, she’s being held in a room against her will, facing severe danger. Her husband, Marc, is desperate to find her, and decides to do so on his own terms. As he embarks on a journey to save Alexandra, he discovers her darkest secrets and is forced to confront how little he knows about the woman he loves.