This book is amazing. Each chapter told from the perspective of a different member of a devoutly religious family in present-day Michigan (devout to the point of no dancing, no alcohol, no television), it charts the complicated relationships between the Rovaniemis and their nine children and what happens when the faith that is meant to hold a family together is rejected. One of the most interesting things about this book is the way that Pylväinen (in her debut novel, btw) manages to make every character sympathetic — both the faithful and unbelieving are given fair treatment in this exploration of doubt and piety.
Bottom line: Masterful and heart wrenching. It comes out later this month (I read a galley of it back in June) so preorder it now.
#8 The Vanishers
by Heidi Julavits
I’d read Julavits’ previous novel, The Uses Of Enchantment, back when I was in college and loved the way she kept me guessing as to what was really going on (the chapters rotate perspectives, each making a case for a different version of events). The Vanishers does much the same thing, though the story rolls out in a more straightforward manner. Dealing with vengeful mind games, faked deaths, and some serious mommy issues, Julia Severn — a student at an institute for budding psychics — always seems to find herself at arm’s length from the truth as she searches for a cure to a psychic attack and the reason her mother killed herself years before.
Bottom line: Though provoking and addictive, I devoured it in about a day.
#9 The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel
by Jasper Fforde
Friends of mine have been on me to read this series for years now and I finally bit the bullet (finding a copy for $2.00 at The Last Bookstore certainly helped). I love books about books, so this was right up my alley and a pretty quick read. Basically, Thursday Next is a literary detective and when an original Dickens manuscript is stolen and a character in it (and in every copy of the same book) disappears from its pages winds up dead in the real world, Thursday has to figure out how to solve the problem before something worse happens to her favorite book: Jane Eyre.