{ GOOD READS }

CHANCES. CHOICES. CONSEQUENCES.

Faith, fate and human nature collide in three new novels

By Claire Yezbak Fadden
Good-Reads1

REBELLION AND THE SPIRIT
OF THE AMERICAN WEST

Shawn Vestal’s electrifying debut novel, Daredevils (Penguin Press, April 12, 2016) kicks into high gear and never slows down. Fifteen-year-old Loretta slips out of her bedroom window to meet her “Gentile” boyfriend. This time, however, her strict Mormon parents catch her and quickly arrange a marriage to Dean Harder, a devout yet materialistic fundamentalist, who already has a wife and a brood of kids. Trapped in her role as a sister-wife, Loretta meets Jason, Dean’s teenage nephew, who worships Evel Knievel and longs to leave his small town—and the Mormon faith—behind. As Jason’s parents clash with Dean and struggle to come to terms with his unconventional family living next door, Loretta and Jason make their plans to escape.

GIRLS AND THE WOMEN THEY BECOME

Set in Northern California during the violent end of the 1960s, Emma Cline’s debut novel, The Girls (Random House, June 14, 2016), follows Evie Boyd, a lonely teenager drawn to a group of girls. Evie is immediately captured by their freedom, their careless dress, and their dangerous attitude of abandon. Mesmerized by Suzanne, an older girl, Evie is pulled into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic and thrilling—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother, her obsession with Suzanne intensifies. Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

TIES THAT BIND US TOGETHER

Author Noah Hawley weaves a tale between the aftermath of a tragedy and backstories of the passengers and crew in his newest novel, Before the Fall (Grand Central Publishing, May 31, 2016). On a foggy summer night, 11 people depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Just 16 minutes later, the unthinkable happens. Down-on-his-luck painter Scott Burroughs and a four-year-old boy are the only survivors. As the mystery surrounding the crash heightens and passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations, all while drawing closer to uncovering the truth.