Bill Warrington’s Last Chance: A Novel – by James King
Bill Warrington is a retired salesman, a widower, and a recently diagnosed Alzheimer’s sufferer. His relationships with his children are fraught — one son is a wanderer, the other estranged; his daughter is a single mother struggling to raise a pigheaded 14-year-old, April. But Bill has vowed to repair these relationships by kidnapping April, driving to California, and leaving clues intended to force his children to overcome mutual distrust and work together. The first part of the plan comes together beautifully, but Bill’s increasing mental troubles mean that his grand plan may in fact depend on April, who may be out of her depth. A road trip that delicately balances humor, regrets, and redemption, this debut shouldn’t be missed.
How to Read the Air – by Dinaw Mengestu
Comprised of the chronicles of two physical journeys — the original undertaken by two Ethiopian immigrants to the U.S. and retraced, 30 years later, by their emotionally numb son — this tale of immigration and the consequences of imperfect communication will appeal to readers interested in the psychological toll taken by immigrating to a new country and culture. Though How to Read the Air centers on Ethiopian immigrants in Illinois and their Americanized son, those enamored of it may also like The Namesake, a similarly literary novel that details the challenges facing an Indian family that has immigrated to Massachusetts.
Kindred Spirits – by Sarah Strohmeyer
Mary Kay, Beth, Carol, and Lynne had bonded during PTA meetings and over martinis, but when Lynne dies, the remaining three find that she’d kept a huge secret from them — and had left instructions for them to correct her mistakes in a way she never could. Each of the women is battling her own crisis — an ailing father, a disintegrating marriage — but they all find that the opportunity for a midlife road trip on behalf of their friend is just what they need to cure what ails them. Pick this one up if you enjoy tales of friendship and life-changing journeys.
The Goodbye Quilt – by Susan Wiggs
Here’s another novel sure to appeal to close-knit mother/daughter pairs (tangential pun somewhat intended). Linda Davis is the owner of a local fabric shop that celebrates commemorative quilts; her daughter Molly will soon be off to college. But before she starts her new life, they decide to share one last adventure by driving cross-country together — and while Molly drives, Linda reminisces…and creates a very special quilt for Molly’s dorm room. Contemplative on the subjects of parenthood, empty nests, marriage, and dreams, this character-driven novel is a “classic tale of growing up and moving on” (Library Journal).