Spring isn’t just a season for warmer weather, longer daylight or cleaning out your home. Spring is a season in the book world as well. Books this time of year tend to feature titles with the names of flowers, bodies of water, or other features of nature and the themes of starting over, rebirth and hope.
And that is why book clubs may be very interested in our collection of spring books that all play with the idea of change. Whether internal or external, these novels each contemplate transformation in their own special way.
The Midwife's Touch
This selection takes place in the 1800s, but the main character is born with a gift that transcends time. China Creed is the daughter of a woman whose touch can grant wishes. While that kind of power is appealing, China’s mother was thought to be a witch and with the same gift, China is under suspicion as well.
This magical realism novel follows China living in a time ruled by superstition and the women in her life are feared despite their mission of helping others. Will China find the true strength that wielding her power can give her, or will she have to depend on a young doctor to use his “legitimate” ways of healing to come into the light?
There are moments you would cherish more if you knew they were the last. The last time you give your child a piggyback ride before they get too big. The last time you pick up a crayon and draw without worry of judgment. Or the last time you see your mom, as she walks away from your car that broke down in order to go get help.
Jack has been left alone with his two younger sisters when his mother doesn’t return for them and they are all left with only a memory of what their family had once been. Jack must find a way to keep this new version of his family together but beyond that is a determination to solve the mystery of what happened to his mother. This story is rife with topics for discussion in a book club that include grief, survival, ingenuity and more.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue
Known as the painter of the Dutch Mona Lisa or The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Vermeer becomes a minor character in this selection about a mysterious painting. Could the painting in question truly be a Vermeer masterpiece?
Prepare to be transported through time and around the globe as a painting of a girl in blue is revealed after being hidden for decades. Each chapter takes the reader back in time to the particular possessor of the painting until the finale with the meeting of the actual girl the painting was inspired by. Stealing, greed, money, shame and love are all jumping off points for lively discussions.
A chance meeting is always an intriguing place to start a story. In this case, an American and a Ghanian literally collide in London. Will this be just another encounter of strangers that cross paths and never see each other again, or could it be more?
Luckily for the readers, the two main characters, Jean and Atilla, will become entwined in a common goal to find a missing girl. During this time, these two strangers will find they have much in common with their own professional missions to nurture others and that maybe they also needing nurturing themselves.
Joe is only sixteen years old when his mother and father move him to Great Falls, where they can make a better living. However, he is also witness to how his parents are still just figuring themselves out as well.
His mother is missing something in her marriage. His father uncharacteristically volunteers to beat back the threat of fire that looms in the forests around them. This leaves Joe realizing that maybe his role is more than just being a teenager and perhaps he has to step into the real world sooner than he expected.
An Ocean in Iowa
Fun fact. This offering is from the author of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Another fun fact. There is not an ocean in Iowa, but you already knew that. The ocean in the title refers to Scotty Ocean. He is seven and while this should be the year of lost front teeth and skinned knees, the memories will be harsher than those typical milestones.
Scotty and his sisters are left to work out for themselves why their mother decided to leave them, as she provides no explanation. Scotty goes through the stages of believing she will come back, believing her absence is his fault and finally, that he will just refuse to grow older than seven and stay this age forever.
A Convenient Marriage
You may have heard of the term, “a marriage of convenience.” This phrase characterizes certain marriages as purely transactional (at least for one of the participants) and in this book, both parties benefit from a union that is not bound in love.
Chaya and Gimhana are both from Sri Lankan families and both feel an obligation to fulfill the traditions of their cultures. The problem is these traditions mean that Chaya is not allowed to have agency and Gimhana is not allowed to love as his heart chooses. The two main characters find their marriage convenient at first because it gives them the freedom to be their true selves in some ways. But secrets are hard to keep and soon what felt like freedom starts to feel not at all convenient anymore.
Halibut on the Moon
This novel is likely to be difficult for some to read but still important to discuss in the safe space of a book club. The term self-care is often used these days since we recognize now more than ever before the importance of tending to one’s mental health.
Vann takes this opportunity to fictionalize the end of his father’s life as he grapples with the darkness that plagues him and the love that his family still offers. Jim Vann leaves Alaska and a life that was isolated and coming apart and heads to California where his family lives. The grip that depression and suicidal ideation can have on a human are conveyed by the author as Jim makes choices that seem inevitable to him and heartbreaking to those who have cared for him.
The Mercy Seat
Willie Jones is an eighteen-year-old Black man sitting in a Louisiana prison in 1943, awaiting execution for a violent crime that he may have not committed. This is how The Mercy Seat starts and the tension doesn’t take a break from there.
The stories surrounding Willie and his innocence or guilt are told by a host of characters who are tied to him in some way. His father, the District Attorney and Willie himself are only a few voices that the reader gets to know during the hours that Willie is awaiting his fate. This novel is sure to start a serious discussion about the past and present justice system in America.
The End We Start From
If you are interested in a sci-fi, dystopian novel as a jumping off point for discussion of climate change, consider this selection. Here in an unspecified future, the city of London is flooded beyond recognition and the inhabitants must find safety. Unfortunately for newborn baby Z this means a warm and welcoming world are not his to claim.
But Z’s mom is able to provide love and what safety she can, even as her husband abandons them. As the floods continue to conquer more ground, she immerses baby Z in love. The reader is left to wonder as circumstances become catastrophic, whether humans still have choices and if these choices seal their ending or become their safety net.