5 books not to miss: Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Crossroads,’ Amor Towles ‘Lincoln Highway’
In search of something good to read? USA TODAY's Barbara VanDenburgh scopes out the shelves for this week’s hottest new book releases. All books are on sale Tuesday.
1. “Crossroads,” by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, fiction)
What it’s about: Franzen tells the story of a Midwestern family in the 1970s at a pivotal moment, the action largely unfolding across a single day. Russ and Marion Hildebrandt each seek to free themselves of their marriage; oldest child Clem comes home from college; popular sister Becky is veering into counterculture; and youngest brother Perry has been selling drugs to middle schoolers.
The buzz: “Franzen’s intensely absorbing novel is amusing, excruciating, and at times unexpectedly uplifting – in a word, exquisite,” says a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.
2. “The Lincoln Highway,” by Amor Towles (Viking, fiction)
What it’s about: Emmett Watson, 18 years old and newly released from a juvenile work farm where he was serving time for involuntary manslaughter, hits the road on a tour through 1950s America in an absorbing novel from the bestselling author of “A Gentleman in Moscow.”
The buzz: “Towles is a supreme storyteller, and this one-of-a-kind kind of novel isn’t to be missed,” says a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
3. “I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness,” by Claire Vaye Watkins (Riverhead, fiction)
What it’s about: A writer leaves behind her husband and baby daughter for a reading in Reno, Nevada that’s supposed to be brief but turns into a monthlong postpartum depression spiral as she confronts the ghosts that haunt her. A dark, and darkly funny, work of autofiction from the gifted writer of “Gold Fame Citrus.”
The buzz: “What makes this work is Claire’s raw sense of pain on the page, and the evenhanded honesty with which Watkins portrays her actions,” says Publishers Weekly.
4. “Fight Night,” by Miriam Toews (Bloomsbury, fiction)
What it’s about: Toews captures three generations of women – feisty 9-year-old Swiv, her partnerless and heavily pregnant mother Mooshie and her ailing grandma Elvira – in a bighearted love letter to mothers and grandmothers.
The buzz: “Toews has written a big-hearted, briskly paced family saga about the extraordinary love that binds three generations of free-spirited women together,” says a ★★★★ (out of four) review for USA TODAY.
5. “The Night the Lights Went Out: A Memoir of Life After Brain Damage,” by Drew Magary (Harmony, nonfiction)
What it’s about: Several years ago, the popular Defector and former Deadspin columnist suffered a sudden catastrophic brain hemorrhage that left him in a coma for two weeks and permanently changed. He shares the story of his near-death experience, journey to recovery and life after touching the void.
The buzz: “Exquisitely painful, this work brims with hope,” says Publishers Weekly.