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A Town Called Solace, Mary Lawson (Knopf Canada) 🍁
In a small Northern Ontario town in the early 1970s, rebellious 16-year-old Rose vanishes after a fight with her mother. The novel, longlisted for the Booker, follows Rose’s little sister, Clara, and Liam, the thirtysomething man from the city who moves in next door after inheriting the property.
All’s Well, Mona Awad (Hamish Hamilton) 🍁
A stage accident ended theatre professor Miranda Fitch’s acting career and left her addicted to painkillers – but when she acquires the ability to transfer her pain to others, she gleefully does so on those who doubted her injury. This story is shaped by Awad’s own experience of chronic pain – as well as Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well and Macbeth, and Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus.
Astra, Cedar Bowers (McClelland & Stewart) 🍁
The story of Astra Brine, born and raised on a remote British Columbia commune, is told through the eyes of 10 people who’ve had intense encounters and relationships with her, revealing the different sides of one woman over a lifetime.
August Into Winter, Guy Vanderhaeghe (McClelland & Stewart) 🍁
This suspenseful novel from the three-time winner of the Governor-General’s Award follows a man who flees his small Prairie town after committing an unspeakable act of violence on the eve of the Second World War.
Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Random House Canada)
Climate catastrophe simmers under the surface of Powers’s Booker Prize-shortlisted follow-up to The Overstory. An astrobiologist attempts to control his nine-year-old son’s behavioural issues using an experimental neurofeedback technique that will make the boy’s brain activity mimic that of his late mother.
If the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning All The Light We Cannot See was a sort of love letter to museums, this new novel, nominated for the National Book Award and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence, is most definitely a love letter to libraries – and this planet.
A Dream of a Woman, Casey Plett (Arsenal Pulp Press) 🍁
Plett has a characteristic style that manages to merge tenderness with Prairie toughness – a style on display in these stories of trans women seeking something – groundedness, maybe, but that dreamlike quality of desire, too.
Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch, Rivka Galchen (Harper Perennial) 🍁
In the early 17th century, 71-year-old widow Katharina Kepler – mother to Johannes of the planetary-motion laws – is accused of witchcraft. The novel follows the ensuing trial and the pile-on that occurs when mob mentality takes over.
Fight Night, Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada) 🍁
The bestselling and award-winning author’s ninth book inhabits a world of strong female protagonists. Told from the perspective of a nine-year-old living with her pregnant mother and feisty grandma, it will have you falling in love with its characters.
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, Cherie Jones (HarperCollins)
This debut novel set in Barbados wins the best title of the year, but it’s also a moving story of intergenerational trauma that delicately explores the ripple effects of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
In Memory of Memory, Maria Stepanova, translated by Sasha Dugdale (Book*hug Press)
A genre-bending book: partly the story of the author’s Russian, Jewish family; partly about the author’s longstanding desire to turn her family into a story. Along the way, it delves into aesthetic history to scrutinize what we in the present ask of the past.
Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf Canada)
From the Nobel Prize–winning author of Never Let Me Go comes a reflection on humanity that asks: Could we love AI like we love humans? The tale is told from the perspective of a robot (or “Artificial Friend”) named Klara who finds new purpose in caring for her teenage owner, Josie.
Matrix, Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books)
Seventeen-year old Marie de France has been cast out of the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine and sent to be an abbess in England. A finalist for the National Book Award, the novel explores female creativity in a corrupt world.
No One is Talking About this, Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead Books)
Shortlisted for the Booker and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, this is the first novel from the American poet and essayist. It’s a first-person story of a woman addicted to Twitter who cuts off from it when faced with a personal loss.
Oh William!, Elizabeth Strout (Random House)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning American author probes the vagaries of human connection through her character Lucy Barton, revived here for the third time, as she reflects, often wistfully, on her long-standing relationship with the man who was once her husband, now her friend.
Our Darkest Night, Jennifer Robson (HarperCollins Canada) 🍁
To survive the Holocaust, a young Jewish woman must pose as a Christian farmer’s wife. Based on true events that happened in her in-laws’ Italian village during the Second World War, this novel tackles sacrifice, guilt and love.
Return of the Trickster, Eden Robinson (Knopf Canada) 🍁
Following Jared Martin – a shape-shifting, dimension-trotting teenager – as he faces off against his ogress aunt and her pack of organ-gobbling coywolves, this final instalment of the Trickster trilogy raises the stakes and emulates the oral tradition of one-upmanship that shaped the stories the Haisla and Heiltsuk author was raised on.
Ring, André Alexis (Coach House Books) 🍁
The final book published in Alexis’s quincunx cycle (Fifteen Dogs, The Hidden Keys, etc.) this one draws everything together in a story about divine intervention and the everyday miraculous. As with the other books in the series, Alexis puts his own spin on genre fiction. This time: Harlequin romance.
Second Place, Rachel Cusk (HarperCollins Canada) 🍁
The Canadian-born (but very British) author has created a kind of literary cover version of Lorenzo in Taos, a 1932 memoir by Mabel Dodge Luhan about D.H. Lawrence’s stay at her New Mexico artists’ colony.
Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Norma Dunning (Douglas & McIntyre) 🍁
Following Dunning’s 2017 collection, Annie Muktuk and Other Stories, these are six new stories about the dislocation of modern Inuk life in Southern Canada and the chance for reconnection through humour, creativity and spirituality.
The Listeners, Jordan Tannahill (HarperCollins) 🍁
A finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, playwright Tannahill’s propulsive novel about a family torn apart by a mother’s obsession with a sound that most people cannot hear examines some of the big themes of the year: conspiracy theories, faith and anxiety.
The Push, Ashley Audrain (Penguin Canada) 🍁
Blythe Connor sits in her car, watching a family through the window. While the family seems picture-perfect, this psychological thriller brings us into a world that’s anything but. The debut novel from Toronto-based Audrain, which led to a bidding war and record-breaking deal, takes twists and turns through the dark side of motherhood, postpartum depression and intergenerational trauma.
The Son of the House, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia (Dundurn Press) 🍁
Two women from very different worlds— but with a crucial connection—are brought together by a kidnapping in Enugu, Nigeria. With no one else to talk to, they tell each other the story of their lives, turning this debut novel into a women’s history of four decades in Nigeria.
The Strangers, Katherena Vermette (Hamish Hamilton) 🍁
After the poet and author’s debut novel, The Break, this Writer’s Trust Prize-winning companion piece is a potent, audacious intergenerational saga that explores race, class, inherited trauma and the strength of matrilineal bonds.
We Want What We Want, Alix Ohlin (House of Anansi Press) 🍁
One young woman learns her father is engaged to her childhood best friend. Another woman ventures to rescue her cousin from a cult. Imperfect families abound in this collection of 13 “glittering, surprising, darkly funny stories of people testing the boundaries of their lives,” according to the book’s publisher.
What Storm, What Thunder, Myriam J. A. Chancy (HarperCollins) 🍁
The Haitian-Canadian writer and academic’s virtuosic fourth novel, which tells the story of the 2010 earthquake known locally as “Douze,” from the point of view of several finely drawn, interlinked characters, comes in the wake of other tragically seismic events in her country of birth, literally and figuratively.
What Strange Paradise, Omar el Akkad (McClelland & Stewart) 🍁
This winner of the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize tells a repurposed fable: Peter Pan reinterpreted as a contemporary child refugee. It follows nine-year-old Syrian refugee Amir, the only survivor from a shipwreck during a desperate, dangerous trip from Africa and the Middle East to the Greek Island of Kos, where he is helped by a 15-year-old Scandinavian girl.
Globe 100 Conversations: Margaret Atwood and Katherena Vermette, winner of the inaugural Atwood Gibson prize, discuss sanitized history and writing the truth
April In Spain, John Banville (Hanover Square Press)
No more bothering with the Benjamin Black nom de plume for this Booker Prize-winning author. This elegant new novel has his continuing sleuth, Quirke, confronting a ghost in idyllic San Sebastian, Spain.
Dark Roads, Chevy Stevens (St. Martin’s Publishing Group) 🍁
The Vancouver writer takes on the mystery of the missing and murdered women on the highways of Canada’s West Coast province. After months and years of deliberation and horror stories in the news, Stevens makes it all readable and terribly believable.
Exit, Belinda Bauer (Grove/Atlantic)
Felix Pink, a death doula, makes a mistake and ushers the wrong person into the afterlife, which sets off a chain of events that keeps suspense at a heart-taxing level.
Falling, TJ Newman (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster)
Definitely not the book to take on your first airplane trip after COVID isolation. The book begins with a shoed foot landing in your lap and never lets up from there. Insider airline info from Newsom, a career flight attendant, adds to the terror in this locked-plane thriller.
Harlem Shuffle, Colson Whitehead (Doubleday Canada)
The best of the best of any year, Whitehead takes us to a Harlem on the verge of social change that no one, as yet, sees coming. The dialogue snaps and crackles and the images flow like, in Whitehead’s own words, “black molasses.” There’s hope for a sequel but this one stands on its own.
Silverview, John le Carré (Penguin Canada)
What is le Carré’s best book? Some would say The Spy Who Came In From the Cold; my personal favourite is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, but no one will argue that Silverview, the spymaster’s final work, is definitely in the top five. Terse, tense and in his luscious luxe prose, this is a book to be savoured.
State of Terror, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny (St. Martins Press)
The combo of Rodham Clinton’s first-hand knowledge of state affairs and Penny’s stellar writing talent means there’s nary a step wrong in this taut, terrific thriller.
Sufferance, Thomas King (HarperCollins Canada) 🍁
Jeremiah Camp has an ability to see patterns in human behaviour and his billionaire boss uses that ability for profit. But, one day he sees something so shocking that he decides to run away and hide out. Now the head of the consortium he used to work for has come a-knocking: Billionaires are dying, and he needs Jeremiah to play oracle one last time.
The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris (Atria Books)
An unforgettable debut by an ex-Knopf Doubleday employee is a sharp social satire about a Black editorial assistant who finds her otherwise cozy position at a lily-white Manhattan publishing house upended by the arrival of another Black girl with unnervingly unassailable bona fides.
We Are Watching Eliza Bright, A. E. Osworth (Grand Central Publishing)
A tech-savvy mystery with understandable postmodernist twists from a gender-fluid new author who checks all the bells and whistles as well as the newest internet clues. Some authors try; Osworth succeeds.
Globe 100 conversations: Omar Mouallem and Kamal Al-Solaylee’s new books are about journeys to understand their roots
A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, Hoa Nguyen (Wave Books) 🍁
A verse biography of the poet’s mother, once a stunt motorcyclist in an all-woman Vietnamese circus troupe, Nguyen’s is a poignant reflection on language, loss and cultural retrieval.
Postscripts from a City Burning, Sam Cheuk (Palimpsest Press) 🍁
A diary in verse composed over three months during the 2019 Hong Kong protests, this collection melds grief for a lost hometown with anger over what has become of it.
The Good Arabs, Eli Tareq El-Bechelany Lynch (Metonymy Press) 🍁
In the opening poem, a dancer could be a woman or could be a man when a Nancy Ajram song comes on. The collection then asks, “Are We Not Arabs?” These poems are about the poet’s multiplicity of identity, trans and Arab, from Beirut to Montreal.
The Endless Garment, Marguerite Pigeon (Wolsak & Wynn) 🍁
The poet casts a loving and critical eye on fashion – its production, labour, capital and consumption, not to mention the product itself – in these poems that crisscross the world and the history of the garment industry.
Globe 100 Conversations: Authors Esi Edugyan and Rinaldo Walcott on being Black in Canada, finding a voice and what brings them joy
A Ghost in the Throat, Doireann Ni Ghriofa (Biblioasis)
Moving fluidly between past and present, this electrifying and genre-bending novel by the Irish poet details her obsession with the 18th-century noblewoman Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill, whose poem The Keen for Art O’Leary was a reaction to the 1773 murder of her Catholic husband under Ireland’s Penal Laws.
Blood Legacy: Reckoning with a Family’s Story of Slavery, Alex Renton (Canongate Books) 🍁
Racism was a cornerstone of the British Empire – and indeed Canada – and this tale of coming to terms with how slavery built a family’s fortune is both fascinating and timely.
Breath Taking: The Power, Fragility, and Future of Our Extraordinary Lungs, Michael J. Stephen (Grove/Atlantic)
The pulmonologist delves into ancient and recent stories to shed much-needed light on an organ – the lungs – that is woefully understudied, even as the past two years of the pandemic have shown us how much more work needs to be done.
Care of: Letters, Connections, and Cures, Ivan Coyote (McClelland & Stewart) 🍁
Like most artists, Coyote was hit hard by last year’s lockdown – but the performer delved into their stockpile of unanswered letters, many from fans who, like Coyote, were trans or non-binary. The resulting correspondence is as crystalline and heartbreaking as anything Coyote has done in a career already full of highlights.
Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence, Anna Lembke (Dutton)
How do you find the delicate balance between pleasure and pain in a world that is hooked on instant gratification and reward? Psychiatrist Lembke explores new discoveries and attempts to explain the neuroscience behind it all.
Driven: The Secret Lives of Taxi Drivers, Marcello Di Cintio (Biblioasis) 🍁
In conversations with drivers ranging from veterans of foreign wars to Indigenous women protecting one another, Di Cintio explores the borderland of the North American taxi.
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of The Sackler Dynasty, Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday Canada)
The New Yorker writer’s investigation into the Sackler family, their company, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, and their production and marketing of the painkiller OxyContin is a sweeping look at how three generations built an empire and addicted a nation.
Finding the Mother Tree, Suzanne Simard (Allen Lane) 🍁
This is a deeply personal story for the University of British Columbia professor – a decades-long journey that weaves together her professional and personal lives with the discovery that forests are communities and mother trees are their lifeblood.
Grand Transitions: How the Modern World Was Made, Vaclav Smil (Oxford University Press) 🍁
What makes the modern world work? The answer to this deceptively simple question according to the Canadian scientist beloved by entrepreneurs and intellectuals lies in four “grand transitions” of civilization – in populations, agriculture, energy, and economics – which have transformed the way we live.
How to Lose Everything, Christa Couture (Douglas & McIntyre) 🍁
From the amputation of her leg as a cure for bone cancer at a young age to her first child’s single day of life, the heart transplant and subsequent death of her second child, the divorce born of grief and then the thyroidectomy that threatened her career as a professional musician, this is a memoir about grief and loss, but also survival.
Klondikers, Tim Falconer (ECW Press) 🍁
Falconer tells the riveting tale of a bunch of guys who travelled from the Yukon to Ottawa because they just wanted to play hockey. The frozen continent they crossed in 1905 was so treacherous that for days, the newspapers chronicling their passage lost track of them.
Neglected No More, André Picard (Random House Canada) 🍁
Even before the pandemic struck, The Globe and Mail’s health columnist was talking tirelessly about Canada’s crisis in elder health. But it took COVID-19 to truly expose the problems with mass institutionalization.
Nothing But The Truth, Marie Henein (McClelland & Stewart) 🍁
This engaging memoir traces Henein from her childhood in Egypt to her rise as a respected criminal defence lawyer and household name, owing to her defence of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi (in a trial she won).
On Borrowed Time, Gregor Craigie (Goose Lane) 🍁
Shortlisted for the inaugural Balsillie Prize for Public Policy, Craigie interviews scientists, engineers and emergency planners about the science of the Big One and how we can prepare.
On Property, Rinaldo Walcott (Biblioasis) 🍁
This slim volume posits one provocative idea: What’s really needed in order to change policing methods around the globe is to get rid of the notion of property.
Out of the Sun, Esi Edugyan (House of Anansi) 🍁
The two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author’s first major work of non-fiction looks at the Black experience in global culture and history, and what happens when some stories remain at the margins.
Over the Boards, Hayley Wickenheiser (Viking) 🍁
Wickenheiser’s CV includes 13 World Championship appearances, six Olympics and a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame, all while raising a child, earning multiple university degrees – and with none of the financial stability handed to male professional athletes.
Permanent Astonishment, Tomson Highway (Doubleday Canada) 🍁
The playwright, novelist and musician delivers an award-winning and mesmerizing work about growing up in northern Manitoba that’s filled with cheek and humour.
Praying to the West, Omar Mouallem (Simon & Schuster) 🍁
To answer the question of whether, in the era of Trump and the Islamic State, there might be a place for him within Islam, Mouallem visited dozens of mosques, from the edge of the Amazon to the Arctic Circle, capturing their diversity of practice and belief.
Rationality: What it Is, Why it Seems Scarce, Why it Matters, Steven Pinker (Viking) 🍁
The two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist’s new work aims to figure out why human beings act irrationally, are prone to bad decisions and follow leaders who are not looking out for their best interests.
Return, Kamal Al-Solaylee (HarperCollins Canada) 🍁
What began as a personal question – where would he be buried? – turned into an act of reportage when Al-Solaylee decided to spend four years travelling the world to “witness, record and demystify” the desire of migrants to return home.
Speak Not: Empire, Identity and the Politics of Language, James Griffiths (Zed) 🍁
The Globe and Mail’s Asia correspondent spent several years travelling to different parts of the world to try to answer the question of why some languages succeed while others are driven to minority status or even extinction.
Survivors: Children’s Lives After the Holocaust, Rebecca Clifford (Yale University Press) 🍁
A finalist for the Cundill History Prize, the Canadian historian’s book is based on the stories of 100 child survivors of the Holocaust, born between 1935 and 1944. The book, also shortlisted for Britain’s Wolfson History Prize, examines historical trauma and its sizable impact.
The Book of Difficult Fruit, Kate Lebo (Macmillan)
An imaginative and darkly funny memoir/encyclopedia/essay/guide; each of its 26 stories takes on a different troublesome fruit. This book is a treat for those who love language and arcane trivia.
The Brilliant Abyss, Helen Scales (Grove/Atlantic)
The British marine biologist’s book illuminates how her personal life – a childhood illness left her nearly blind – affects her current position as the foremost expert on underwater light communication to give a fuller understanding of a world we know very little about.
The Dawn of Everything, David Graeber and David Wengrow (McClelland & Stewart)
The anthropologist, who died in 2020, and archeologist challenge our fundamental assumptions about social evolution in this trailblazing and weighty tome (it’s more than 500 pages).
Under a White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert (Crown)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction skillfully and subtly examines technology’s role in imperilling our planet and looks at our determination to fix the problem by once again interfering with nature.
Unreconciled, Jesse Wente (Allen Lane) 🍁
In this memoir-cum-manifesto, the Anishinaabe journalist and current chair of the Canada Council of the Arts outlines an identity awakening facilitated, in part, by his love of sports and pop culture, and critiques the notion of “reconciliation.”
Globe 100 Conversations: Tomson Highway and Thomas King talk about their writing inspiration, and why they don’t watch Netflix
Fictional Father, Joe Ollmann (Drawn & Quarterly) 🍁
One of two graphic novels up for Governor-General’s Awards (the other, Michel Rabagliati’s Paul at Home, came out in late 2020), Ollmann’s latest is a typically acerbic character study. Portraying the aimless, alcoholic son of an aloof, philandering cartoonist, Ollmann blends jovial grotesquerie with a surprising generosity of spirit.
Discipline, Dash Shaw (New York Review Comics)
Shaw’s magnum opus, an epic but intimate tale of a teenaged “fighting Quaker” during the American Civil War. Narrated in handwritten letters and journal entries, drawn in numinous, borderless panels, Shaw’s book feels authentically out of time, deeply invested in moral questions about pacifism and faith.
No One Else, R. Kikuo Johnson (Fantagraphics)
In the long-awaited follow-up to the New Yorker artist’s 2005 debut, nurse Charlene and young son Brandon lead a life of contented repression on Johnson’s native Maui, until family tragedy strikes, and no one knows how to cope. A wry, compassionate story of gemlike precision, whose beauty cuts deeply.
Stone Fruit, Lee Lai (Fantagraphics)
Lee Lai’s incisive debut maps out the fraught family dynamics revolving around young lovers Ray, tentative auntie to a vivacious six-year-old, and Bron, estranged from her religious home. The Montreal-based artist captures every nuance of emotional turmoil, in cartooning that’s both introspective and ferocious.
Trots and Bonnie, Shary Flenniken (New York Review Comics)
Imagine Orphan Annie and Sandy reading Our Bodies, Ourselves, and you’re ready for high jinks with wide-eyed Bonnie and Trots, her wised-up mutt. A neglected feminist classic and cornerstone of 1970s National Lampoon, Flenniken’s bawdy, elegant comic strip finally gets the collection it deserves.
Globe 100 Conversations: Academics and authors Alix Ohlin and Randy Boyagoda share insights on structuring stories (and writing during meetings)
The Big Bath House, Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Gracey Zhang (Random House Children’s Books, 4-8) 🍁
A rambunctious and exuberant trip down memory lane as Maclear takes us into the bath houses she went to during childhood visits to her grandmother in Japan.
Hare B&B, Bill Richardson, illustrated by Bill Pechet (Running the Goat, 6-8) 🍁
In this whimsically retelling of a classic folktale, Harriet and her seven siblings prove how resilient they are when, after their parents’ sudden demise, they open up the Hare B&B. They show what they’re made of when a hare-eating wolf comes to dupe them into being his next meal.
Learning to Carve Argillite, Sara Florence Davidson and Robert Davidson, illustrated by Janine Gibbons (Highwater Press, 6-10) 🍁
Based on their grandfather Haida artist Robert Davidson’s own childhood experiences, readers are given a chance to see the path that this acclaimed artist took as a boy to learn how to become a carver.
Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest, Phoebe Wahl, author and illustrator (Tundra, 4-8)
A series of four linked stories that celebrate nature and the seasons. Readers will find themselves delighted by both Wahl’s engaging stories and whimsical illustrations.
Moon Pops, Heena Baek, illustrated by Jieun Kiaer (OwlKids, 3-7)
A reimagining of a famous Korean folktale takes the reader to an unbearably hot summer night when even the moon begins to melt. Granny grabs a bucket to catch the falling moon drops and decides to make them into moon pops.
On the Trapline, David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett (Tundra, 6-8) 🍁
Based on his father’s experiences of life on the land, Robertson tells a tender story about a young boy visiting the places where his moshom (grandfather) grew up.
The Big Bad Wolf in My House, Valérie Fontaine, illustrated by Nathalie Dion (Groundwood Books, 4-8) 🍁
A powerful story about domestic violence, seen through the eyes of a child. This isn’t any easy book but it’s an important one.
The Sour Cherry Tree, Naseem Hrab, illustrated by Nahid Kazemi (OwlKids, 4-8) 🍁
An exquisitely tender story that’s based on Hrab’s own relationship with her Iranian grandfather. As a young girl who wanders through her baba’s house after his death, her memory is triggered by the things that made their relationship unique.
Two at the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest, Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Christopher Corr (Groundwood, 4-8) 🍁
Krishnaswami tells the compelling stories of sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay, growing up in Nepal under the shadow of Chomolungma, the mountain also known as Everest, and explorer Sir Edmund Hillary.
We All Play, Julie Flett (Greystone Kids, 7 and under) 🍁
An exuberant look at how animals and children play and how important it is to their lives. Young readers can romp with bears that wiggle and wobble, whales that swim and squirt and owls that peek and peep all to the repeated refrain We play too!/ kimêtawânaw mîna (in English and Cree).
Globe 100 Conversations: Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny on what drew them to write political thriller State of Terror together
A Pho Love Story, Loan Le (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Youngsters from two rival clans fall for each other, but this is no Romeo and Juliet. Here, the families own competing Vietnamese restaurants in SoCal, deepening a rift that first developed in their war-torn home country. Le’s book is a love story, yes, but also a paean to the resilience shown by the generation of Vietnamese who fled to North America after that war.
Borders, Thomas King (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) 🍁
The Guelph, Ont.-based author turned his celebrated 1993 short story – which focuses on a woman who refuses at the boundary between Canada and the U.S. to say she is a citizen of either country – into a graphic novel. The Saskatchewan-born Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan has rendered the story’s characters and scenes vividly, preserving the considerable wit in King’s treatment of the standoff.
Both Sides Now, Peyton Thomas (Penguin Teen) 🍁
A competitive debater like Finch knows he has to argue both sides of every proposition, but what if that means speaking, in a televised national competition, against the rights of trans people (like himself) to use the public washrooms of their choice? Toronto author Thomas’s book is lively, funny and puts the reader – and this great central character – into necessarily uncomfortable places.
Factory Summers, Guy Delisle (Drawn & Quarterly) 🍁
The legendary Québécois illustrator revisits the summers he spent as a teenager working at a pulp-and-paper plant. The book details the quiet (and not-so-quiet) desperation of his older co-workers, while conjuring up the fugitive pleasures of those times now long past. Its portrait of his distant father, an executive at the plant, is at once sweet and bitter.
Firefly, Philippa Dowding (Cormorant) 🍁
This fantasy specialist’s shift into realism is a triumph (it won the Governor-General’s Award for young fiction). An addict mother so terrorizes her daughter that the girl prefers Toronto’s tough streets to her home. Sometimes in life – and in fiction – the right person shows up at the right time. The girl’s bad-ass aunt takes her in, and slowly, ever so slowly, the girl starts to feel safer. Each day, the niece tries on different clothes from the aunt’s cavernous costume shop, seeking to disguise her way toward a new self, a new life.
Frankie & Bug, Gayle Forman (Aladdin)
It’s not the summer Bug had in mind. She thought she’d spend it on an L.A. beach with her older brother, but he’s apparently sick of spending time with her. And Frankie, the Midwestern kid visiting Frankie’s honorary uncle, has no interest in swimming and sunbathing, wanting instead to figure out the identity of a serial killer stalking the city. Whatever – Bug’s not having any of it.
Hello (From Here), Chandler Baker and Wesley King (Dial) 🍁
Two bestselling authors, Texas-based Baker and Nova Scotia-based King, here collaborate in rendering a fine romance written in the alternating voices of their two 17-year-old protagonists, Maxine and Jonah. The young pair meet at a grocery store in the early days of COVID and begin haggling over the last rolls of that then-rare commodity, toilet paper. Though she outhaggles him, he falls for her, pushing through his anxiety disorder and his grief (for his just-dead mom) to make a play for her.
Take Me Home Tonight, Morgan Matson (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
This book is an extended – and excellent – riff on E.L. Konigsburg’s classic From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Here also two kids end up in New York on their own for the first time; here, too, the Metropolitan Museum and an art-world mystery feature. In one night on the town, high-school drama-club pals Kat and Stevie lose their phones and, for a time, each other, but what they find is a lot.
The Girls I’ve Been, Tess Sharpe (Penguin Young Readers)
This taut, satisfying thriller puts the daughter of a con woman, by happenstance, in the middle of a bank heist. To foil the robbers and escape alive, Nora has to use the skills she learned impersonating assorted girls to aid in her mother’s grifts. She puts what she learned from those false selves to work, while muddling toward some truths – about herself, about life.
Tremendous Things, Susin Nielsen (PRH Canada Young Readers) 🍁
This former Degrassi writer’s charming book follows hapless Toronto teen Wilbur’s journey from zero to, if not hero, then someone of some substance. Helping him along are his mothers, his Holocaust-survivor best friend and an ebullient French exchange student named Charlotte. Some of the character names are, of course, out of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, signalling this book’s similar interests in two tremendous things: mortality and friendship.
Baking With Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple, Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The award-winning, prolific and beloved cookbook writer has created a baking book that appeals to home bakers of all skill levels – her recipes range from basic to complex, are reliable and accessible yet inspirational and cover everything from cookies to pastries.
Eat, Habibi, Eat!: Fresh Recipes for Modern Egyptian Cooking, Shahir Massoud (Appetite) 🍁
Canadian-Egyptian chef and TV personality Massoud draws on his family’s traditional recipe collection, honing each dish by way of his traditional French and Italian chef training. His joyful personality instills confidence in the home cook, enabling all to feed their friends and loved ones. (the Arabic habibi translates to “my darling.”)
Farm, Fire & Feast: Recipes From the Inn At Bay Fortune, Michael Smith (Penguin Canada) 🍁
Nestled on 46 acres of land on an island famous for its beaches, farmland and seafood, the Inn at Bay Fortune in PEI has drawn visitors to experience meals prepared using ingredients harvested from their eight-acre garden, five greenhouses and small orchard chef Smith and his team have gathered.
One: Pot, Pan, Planet: A Greener Way To Cook For You, Your Family and the Planet, Anna Jones (HarperCollins)
A unique compilation of recipes and suggestions for simple ways to prepare specific ingredients, all tailored to be made vegetarian or vegan. There’s also advice on how to minimize food waste, trim the grocery bill and develop more sustainable habits in the kitchen.
Vegetables: A Love Story, Renée Kohlman (Touchwood) 🍁
Saskatoon chef and food writer Renée Kohlman shares the story of meeting (at the local farmers’ market!) and falling in love with her beau, veggie farmer Dixon Simpkins, with 92 heartwarming veg-forward (but not exclusively vegetarian) recipes inspired by their life and harvests.
Well Seasoned: A Year’s Worth Of Delicious Recipes, Mary Berg (Appetite) 🍁
CTV kitchen personality Mary Berg is inspired by all that affects our appetites: moods, cravings, seasons and the people with whom we share our tables. Every course and occasion is covered in Well Seasoned, with dishes a bit unexpected – think strawberries and rhubarb inverted into a tarte Tatin, or a handful of sour cream and onion chips crushed over new potato salad.
Illustrations by LeeAndra Cianci
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