Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Set in England, this is the story of an upper class daredevil businessman who is in an accident that leaves him a paraplegic, but the real focus is on the working-class, small town girl hired to be his caretaker and how she is changed by the experience. The ending, though sad, is also satisfying. The book is both exactly what you think it will be, but also a bit more. The end result is not only a wonderful read, but also a thought-provoking book about the rights and dignities of the disabled.
Another thoroughly enjoyable book is Everything Matters! by Ron Currie. The premise is that a child, Junior Thibodeau, knows from the day he is born (actually, before he is born) that the world will end in 36 years, X-# of days and months, the result of an asteroid now en route from Neptune. As Junior comes-of-age in a family consisting of his hard-working but emotionally distant father, alcoholic mother, and drug-addict-turned-baseball phenom brother, the knowledge that life as we know it may be a giant exercise in futility informs his attitudes and actions. Part romance, part family saga, part post-apocalyptic/dystopian fantasy, the novel’s strengths are the quirky/snarky tone of the supernatural force that imparts this wisdom to Junior and the moral dilemmas Junior confronts with believable confusion.
Robert Crais’ new stand-alone, Suspect, is a totally fabulous must read for animal lovers, especially dog lovers. California LAPD cop Scott James and his working dog Maggie try to solve the murder of Scott’s first human partner, Stephanie. This is especially recommended on audio and will be enjoyed by non-pet people as well.
A totally light read (although with some strong language) is Insane City by Dave Barry. This book is exactly as the title suggests: insane. The story centers around the eve of an opulent wedding in Miami and a wild group of groomsmen. Everything that can go wrong does, however improbable, and the result is a fun read. This is probably a good read-alike for Evanovich lovers, but without the mystery.
If you like historical fiction, try Freeman by Leonard Pitts. Set in the post-Civil War era, three main characters tell the story. Sam is an educated former slave who leaves his job in the Northeast to return to Mississippi in hopes of finding his wife, Tilda, from whom he was torn apart 15 years earlier. The third character is a young, wealthy white widow who hopes to fulfill her dead abolitionist father’s dream of building a school for slaves. Their paths eventually intersect, but until they do the storyline seems to run amok. The end result is a story that takes the reader on a long journey into a portion of the United States unwilling to accept the outcome of the war. Warning: There is heavy usage of the “N” word, as well as some violence, but mainly it’s just sad to read about the terrible, demeaning and ignorant treatment of slaves.
Nonfiction fans will want to read The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (978.032 EGA). Set in a remote area of Oklahoma, Egan introduces the reader to real characters who lived under conditions difficult to imagine, during the Depression and Dust Bowl. Even the little things in life became a treacherous journey. For example, you could not shake someone’s hand during a “duster’ because there was so much static electricity in the air that a man could get knocked to the ground. This is a fascinating story told in a very readable style.