Every family has a story. Three recent debut novels explore the unraveling of fragile families and the ever-present need for human connection. In Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea by Morgan Callan Rogers, twelve-year-old Florine is growing up in a small Maine coastal town when her mother mysteriously disappears. The disappearance has profound effects on Florine and her father and shapes the course of each of their lives. Beautiful and tragic, Rogers provides a realistic look at small town life and independent people who must regroup and forgive if they are to build anything.
In another book about familial relationships, The Lost Saints of Tennessee by Amy Franklin-Willis follows a Tennessee family from the 1940s to the 1980s. The main character, Zeke, is still haunted by the drowning which claimed his twin brother over a decade prior. Faced with divorce and strained relationships with other family members, he impulsively leaves town. His time away allows him to reflect and he eventually faces both the flaws and strengths of the family that shaped his life.
The most tragic and hardscrabble of the three novels is Tupelo Hassman’s Girlchild. Hassman presents the dangerous and lost world of a Nevada trailer park through the eyes of one fractured family. Rory Dawn Hendrix is seen by her family as their only hope. She is smart, resourceful, and insightful, a change from the previous generations of Hendrix women. Yet she is also still just a young girl, and the dangers of the community and its members threaten to engulf her and her plans for the future.
Any of these three books would be good to take along on a vacation or for discussion at book clubs. Enjoy, and look for more books from these authors in the future!