20 BEST FICTION BOOKS OF 2019: THE NOVELS WE LOVED READING THIS YEAR

20 BEST FICTION BOOKS OF 2019: THE NOVELS WE LOVED READING THIS YEAR

TRUE PLACES

BY SONJA YOERG

While out driving, and taking a break from her over-scheduled life, Suzanne comes across a teenage girl—a girl who emerges from the woods. She looks starved, ill, and she collapses. While the girl, Iris, is in the hospital, she reveals that she has been living on her own in the wilderness and has never experienced the "moderm" lifestyle. Suzanne takes Iris under her wing thinking she will be helping the girl, but in fact it is the girl who will change her privileged life. Suzanne has been increasingly unsure of her place in the world. She has the perfect house, a successful husband and family, but beneath this perfect façade, her daughter is rebelling, her son is withdrawing, her husband is oblivious to it all. Iris, with her independent spirit, love of solitude, and a discomfort with materialism, is a contrast to everything Suzanne's family stands for and together they help each other handle their pasts.

Even though story is mostly predictable, the writing is exquisite with mesmerizing descriptions, beautiful imagery, and well-drawn characters.

Published on January 1, 2019. This the author's fourth novel, the fifth one, Stories We Never Told, will be released on May 1, 2010.

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL

BY GREER HENDRICKS & SARAH PEKKANEN

Best 2019 fictionJess is a make-up artist struggling to get by. Eager to earn some extra cash, she signs up with a study conducted by a NYC psychiatrist, Dr. Schields—generous compensation and anonymity guaranteed. Referred to as Subject 52, she is to answer some questions on morality and ethics via computer screen. The questions progress, Jessica is starting to open up more and more, revealing a secret she has kept for years. After the project expands, for more money, Jessica starts to wonder whether she is being manipulated and whether she might be in some sort of danger. Is she just being paranoid or is there something sinister going on?

It is an intense and dark page-turner with twists and turns about morality, betrayal, and obsession.

Published on January 8, 2019. This is the duo's second novel and the Goodreads Choice Award Nominee in 2019. The first, The Wife Between Us, was a nominee in 2018. Their third collaboration, You Are Not Alone, will be released on March 3, 2020.

THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS

BY PAM JENOFF

Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after a tragic death of her husband during the war. On day in 1946 she is passing through Grand Central Station in NYC, late to work again, when she stumbles over an abandoned suitcase. Unable to resist her curiosity, she looks inside. Grace finds a dozen of photographs, each of a different woman, and she becomes intrigued. She soon learns that the suitcase belonged to Eleanor Trigg, who ran a top secret program placing women in France as radio operators to sabotage the Nazi operations. The story follows Eleanor as she was tapped to create this program, bringing in two of her recruits, describing the dangers serving as an agent, and what ultimately led to their downfall.

Inspired by true events, it is an intricate story of courageous women who realized their worth in endeavors previously reserved for men, about their friendship, love and betrayal.

Published on January 29, 2019.  The author is also known for her bestsellers, The Kommandant's Girl and The Orphan's Tale.

THE BEANTOWN GIRLS

BY JANE HEALEY

It is 1944 and Fiona Denning, living in Boston, learns that her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany. Fiona leaves Boston determined to find her husband and volunteers as a Red Cross ClubMobile girl. Her two best friends join her—the outspoken Viviana and the shy and talented music teacher Dottie. But the trio isn’t quite prepared for the daunting challenges of war. Their job is to bring comfort to the soldiers at the frontline, making them donuts and coffee... and boosting morale even when scared and exhausted themselves. The girls have to learn to drive and maintain heavy vehicles, learn first aid, and keep a smiling and happy demeanor for the worn-out soldiers even when they themselves experience loss and encounter unforeseen dangers. The spunky and adorable women also find new friendships and romances.

It is a wonderfully written account of friendship, love and bravery, and a beautiful portrayal of the women who wanted to make a difference in war that brought so much loss and heartache.

Published on February 5, 2019. This is the author's second novel. Available on Kindle Unlimited.

THE SILENT PATIENT

BY ALEX MICHAELIDES

Alicia and Gabriel Berenson were the perfect couple. Alicia was an up-and-coming painter and Gabriel a noted fashion photographer. Everything was beautiful until Alicia was found standing over her dead husband's body. He has been shot in the face five times and was covered in both of their blood. When Alicia is accused of the murder, she does not speak a word. She is saved from the death penalty and placed in a psychiatric hospital instead. She still refuses to talk, year after year. Theo Farber, a criminal psychotherapist, has been following her story from the beginning. He worms his way into a new at the hospital and starts to work with Alicia...and she starts opening up.

It is a fast-paced and compelling thriller with many threads and a few surprises.

Published on February 5, 2019. This is a debut novel by a former screenwriter and a Goodreads Choice Award winner for Mystery & Thriller. A movie adaption is currently in the works.

THE HUNTRESS

BY KATE QUINN

Ferocious and reckless, Nina Markova grows up neglected and abused in wild, icy Siberia, dreaming of flying and fearing nothing. When World War II breaks out, Nina joins the infamous Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment. After she is downed behind enemy lines, she comes face to face with the female Nazi known as the Huntress. British war correspondent Ian Graham has witnessed the horrors of war from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials and is obsessed with bringing Nazi war criminals to justice. After the war, he abandons journalism to become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target has been able to elude him: the Huntress, a woman accused of committing unspeakable war crimes against children in Poland. The only person alive who has ever seen the Huntress is Nina Markova, with whom Ian has a complicated past. Seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride grows up in post-WWII Boston. After her widowed father brings home a fiancée, Jordan can’t shake a feeling that there is something dangerous about this woman. Annaliese is a charming but secretive German woman, whose young daughter, Ruth, is so traumatized by the past that she barely speaks.

It is a compulsively readable, riveting story told from three perspectives masterfully converged together.

Published on February 26, 2019. A Goodreads Choice Award Nominee. The bestselling author of historic fiction is also known for the Alice Network, a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee in 2017.

WHERE THE FOREST MEETS THE STARS

BY GLENDY VANDERAH

Joanna is a graduate student of ornithology who is dealing with the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer. She trows herself into her research and is living a solitary life consumed by her studies...until her routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child. The girl, who calls herself Ursa, shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises. She claims to have come from the stars to stay until she witnesses five miracles. She is adorable, incredibly smart, and very stubborn. Jo has concerns about the child’s situation at home and reluctantly agrees to let her stay—only until she has found information about her parents. When she cannot find Ursa in the missing children registry, she turns to her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel, to help her solve the mystery of this precious child. The three form an incredible bond. When the reality of having a strange child stay with them finally catches up, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.

It is an eloquently written, heartwarming and mysterious story with a message of unexpected love and coming together, heavy subjects intricately weaved in. It is spectacular.

Published on March 1, 2019. This is the author's debut novel and Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction. Available on Kindle Unlimited.

THE ISLAND OF SEA WOMEN

BY LISA SEA

Two childhood friends—Young-sook and Mi-ya live on the South Korean island of Jeju, known for the haenyeos, women who support their families by deep-diving for fish, while their husbands stay home taking care of the children. The story is set over several decades from the years during the Japanese occupation, World War II, and Korean War to modern times. Young-sook and Mi-ya come from diffrent backgrounds. Mi-ya is the daughter of a collaborator for the hated Japanese, and she is forever marked by this association. Young-sook is destined to become a leader of the divers in the village. Sharing their deepest secrets, dreams, love of diving, adventures, the girls have a special bond...until the friendship is destroyed by an unfathomable and unforgivable act.

It is a bit of a slow read, but it is a moving story of fiercely strong women leading their families through hardship and hope. The reader learns about the Jeju women, the horrors they lived through, their bravery and will to survive.

Published on March 5, 2019. The author has written numerous bestsellers, including Shanghai Girls and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Her latest novel was the Goodreads Choice Award Nominee in 2019.

RUN AWAY

BY HARLAN COBEN

Simon Greene and his wife Ingrid live a somewhat privileged middle class life, busy with their perfect lives. Their daughter Paige is the model daughter until she falls into a dark and dangerous world of drugs, criminals and an abusive boyfriend. She disappears and it is clear that she does not want to be found. Simon and Ingrid are eager to find her and are about to meet some vicious characters and discover some dark secrets.  As they uncover the truths about Paige’s life they find their very lives in danger.

The slick and entertaining narrative exposes dark family secrets of enormous proportions. The action begins right from page one and the plot takes the reader to places they would never dream of including murders, cults, hit men, and numerous plot twists you never see coming.

Published on April 2, 2019. The best-selling author has sold over 60 million books in print worldwide.

MIRACLE CREEK

BY ANGIE KIM

Elizabeth is on trial for an alleged murder of her autistic son. He was undergoing an experimental medical treatment. The Hyberbaric Oxygen Therapy, or HBOT, facility, started by Korean immigrants, Pak and Young Yoo, was supposed to improve anything from autism to infertility and involves dives in a pressurized submarine. But when a fire breaks out and the submarine explodes, two are left dead and others paralyzed. Elizabeth is accused of orchestrating the fatal explosion.Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college?

It is a courtroom drama but the trial is a backdrop here. As the trial unfolds, the reader learns about the secrets of the diverse cast of characters. It is an intelligent an erudite, richly textured novel about tangled family secrets and the desire for connection.

Published on April 16, 2019. This is a debut novel of the the Princeton-educated, American Korean author born in Seoul, and a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Mystery and Thriller as well as Debut Novel.

WHEN WE WERE BRAVE

BY KARLA M. JAY

Wilhelm Falk is a conflicted and reluctant SS-officer, horrified by what he sees in the death camps. He is trying to redeem the mistakes he has made and is risking everything to escape the Wehrmacht and to get the message about the horrors out. Izaak Tauber is a young Jewish boy, bounced from one concentration camp to another and searching for his father. Herbert Müller, a German living peacefully in the United States, away from the war, is turned in as an enemy by fearful neighbors, with no evidence. As the novel progresses, the three storylines gradually connect.

It is a beautifully written and captivating historical novel about three characters whose lives were greatly affected by the war. It is a story of human strength and the desire to survive no matter what. The author masterfully makes the reader feel the characters' despair, their pain, and hope.

Published on April 19. This is the author's debut novel. Available on Kindle Unlimited.

THE OVERDUE LIFE OF AMY BYLER

BY KELLY HARMS

Single mom Amy Byler is overworked and under-appreciated. She desperately needs a break and the break comes unexpectedly when her ex-husband offers to take care of their kids for the summer. Amy accepts his offer and escapes rural Amish Pennsylvania for New York City. Amy, who is usually grounded and mild mannered, lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She is meeting new people, trying new things, and discovers a life filled with culture and sophistication.  Also–with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. Then she meets a man who makes her heart beat and she has to make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

It is an engaging, fun and quirky read about a single mother's journey to self-awareness, with witty dialogue and well-drawn characters.

Published on May 1, 2019. This is her third novel and a Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee. Her next humorous novel, "The Bright Side of Going Dark," will be released on May 12, 2020.

 

THE BRIDE TEST

BY HELEN HOANG

A well-to-do Vietnamese American woman travels to Vietnam to find a wife to his son. She comes across a young woman who is cleaning a hotel's bathroom. Thinking that she is a good hardworking girl and pretty in an unusual way, she pulls out a manila envelope and shows her a picture of his very good-looking son...then asks if she wants to come to America to marry him. Esme, a young single mother, sees an opportunity not only for a better life but also to find her biological father in America. The arrangement is that she will go for the summer and try to seduce Khai. The young man, Khai, turns out to be a man who either is working or is working out and seems to avoid everything else. Khai, Michaels's cousin and Quan's brother from the author's previous novel, The Kiss Quotient, has autism spectrum disorder which makes social interactions difficult. His relationship with Esme is played out skillfully as they navigate each other's differences, growing profoundly fond of each other.

It is a sweet story of loss and love with flawed but genuine and very likable characters.

Published on May 7. Helen Hoang is an American author with a Vietnamese mother. Her romances feature characters on the autism spectrum as she herself has. This is her second novel and it was nominated for Goodreads Choice Award; as was her first, the bestselling The Kiss Quotient". Her third novel, "The Heart Principle," will be released on May 4, 2021.

HAVE YOU SEEN LOUIS VELEZ

BY CATHERINE RYAN HYDE

Seventeen-year-old Raymond is an unusually mature and self-aware youngster who is finding it hard to fit in at home and at school. He lives in an apartment building in New York. One day, he finds an old woman standing in her doorway, calling out, “Hello? Hello? Is someone still there?” It is his neighbor Mrs. G, or Millie, who is 92 years old and blind. She wants to know if Raymond knows were Luis Velez is. A young man named Luis had been helping Mrs. G to run errands, but he has not been seen in almost three weeks. Mrs. G. has been living on a single can of soup for the last few days. This is where an unlikely friendship and a journey begins. Raymond takes over the role of Millie’s caregiver, they get to know each other, and Raymond’s starts to see the world and people in a completely new light. It isn’t long before he sets out looking for Luis Velez.

It is a feel-good coming of age story of privilege, loss, compassion, forgiveness, and most of all, friendship.

Published on May 21, 2019. The author is a prolific writer who has published over thirty novels. Her next, "Brave Girl, Quiet Girl," will be released on May 19, 2020.

LYING NEXT TO ME

BY GREGG OLSEN

Adam and Sophie Warner and their three-year-old daughter are spending their weekend getaway for some family bonding. They have rented a cabin by a lake in a secluded area. The only other two cabins are occupied by a woman with her two grandchildren and a a young couple. On the second day, Adam takes his daughter out on a boat to go crabbing. While on the lake, he sees his wife struggling with someone on the shore. Adam cannot make it to her in time and she vanishes. Detective Lee Husemann, Adam's childhood friend, is called in to find Sophie.

It is a suspenseful psychological thriller with many twists and unreliable, self-indulgent and multi-layered characters.

Published on May 21, 2019. This is the bestselling author's 9th crime-related novel. 

THE ROAD SHE LEFT BEHIND

BY CHRISTINE NOLFI

Darcy Goodridge left home eight years ago after her father and sister died in a terrible car accident. Consumed by guilt over the accident, and torn apart by her mother's resentment, she vows never to return back to her hometown. Then, a phone call from her mother’s housekeeper causes her to reluctantly return home. Her eight-year-old nephew Emerson has gone missing. Once back in Ohio, Darcy realizes there is more to Emerson’s disappearance. She begins to unravel a decades-old secret that devastated her family and forced a wedge between her and the man she left heartbroken when she vanished after the funeral. After carrying the scars of that fateful night for almost a decade, Darcy is determined to find closure, healing, and maybe even love where she lost them all in the first place—right back home where she belongs.

From page one the reader is immediately drawn to the suspenseful and heartwarming story of love and forgiveness with well developed characters.

Published on June 11, 2019. The author has written over ten books and her 2011 debut "Treasure Me" was a Next Generation Indie Awards finalist. 

WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MERMAIDS

BY BARBARA O'NEAL

It's been fifteen years since Kit last saw her sister Josie. They had been estranged for some years and never got to make amends because Josie died in a terrorist attack in France. At least that's what Kit has always believed. Then, while watching a live coverage of a club fire in Auckland, she sees an image of a woman who looks just like Josie. Kit is determined to find out the identity of the woman who looks so much like her sister and decides to travel to New Zealand. The book is told in two perspectives, of Kit and Mari (Josie). As the sisters reunite, some of their long-buried secrets become unearthed.

It is a beautifully written tale of love, redemption, and forgiveness; an ocean of lies, and a search for the truth.

Published on July 16, 2019. The bestselling author of women's fiction has written over forty books under different pen names.

A FIRE SPARKLING

BY JULIANNE MCLEAN

Gillian Gibbons discovers an old photograph of her grandmother posing with a Nazi officer. Her grandmother, Vivian, had arrived in the United States after WWII together with her son (Gillian's father) and her second husband, Jack. Her first husband, from an aristocratic family in England, was killed in one of the air raids during the war, together with Gillian's sister, April. The story is a revelation of what was behind the photo and what had happened during the war. Gillian learns more about her grandmother’s past, but for every question answered, a new one takes its place. The truth is not at all what she had expected.

It is an emotional war-time story of betrayal and acceptance, of family and love, and complex characters. The twists and turns hold the reader's interest until the end.

Published on August 1, 2019. Julianne MacLean is a prolific Canadian author of primarily historical romance novels who has sold more that two million books worldwide.

THE SECRETS QWE KEPT

BY LARA PRESCOTT

At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission is to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where it has been banned, and help Pasternak's magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who excels at extracting secret information from unsuspecting men. Irina Drozdova, a daughter of a Russian immigrant, is a complete novice but under Sally’s tutelage, she quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents. Disguised as a nun, she helps distribute the reprints of the smuggled novel to people who will get them into the Soviet Union, in an effort to manipulate public opinion in favor of America.

It is a fascinating tale of espionage, a fictional account of the true story of an American spy effort in the 1950s and the controversy surrounding it.

Published on September 17, 2019. This is the author's debut novel. Film rights were acquired even before the book was released.

THE DUTCH HOUSE

BY ANN PATCHETT

Shortly after WWII, Cyril Conroy's life catapults from poverty into wealth after a canny real estate investment. He buys the Dutch House as a surprise for his wife—a house that is grandiose and truly an architectural jewel in the Pennsylvania suburbs. It is also a house that turns out to splinter his family apart. As the narrative moves back and forth in time through five decades, the house remains an integral part in the family dramas that ensue. The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny. He and his older sister Maeve grew up in the Dutch House, but were later exiled by their stepmother thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from.

Set over the course of five decades, it is a novel of obsession with complex characters, but it is also  story of acceptance and forgiveness.

Published on September 24, 2019. The bestselling author of "Bel Canto," "State of Wonder," and "Commonwealth" is the recipient of the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction. "The Dutch House" is her eight novel and a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction. The fabulous audio version of The Dutch House is read by no other than Tom Hanks.

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