The Fireman by Joe Hill - Now this is a book! A pandemic begins taking over the world. When you become infected, you get hotter and hotter until you eventually combust. Firestarter. Harper is a nurse who fancies herself something of a Mary Poppins. She works at her local hospital, taking care of the infected for as long as she can, until she realizes that she herself has become infected. When she tells her husband, he initially seems to come to terms with it, but that turns out not to be the case. Harper is forced to flee her own home and find more like her, infected, but still alive. There, she meets John aka The Fireman. I'm doing a terrible job of explaining this, but the truth is that there is so much to the story and I don't want to spoil anything, but also want to share everything about it because it was so good! Did I mention Harper is pregnant? Joe Hill is Stephen King's son and his writing style is so similar, it's scary (ha). But really, this reminds me of early, epic King novels. It's dark, it's dangerous, it's really funny at times, it perfectly references pop culture, it shows both the best and worst of people when faced with impossible situations. Give this a read and let me know what you think!
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler - Our narrator is young. She's pretty. She's just sort of run away from home and is living in New York. She needs a job. She finds one at the restaurant. For a year, we follow her life. At work, she is voracious, hungry to learn everything about the food and the wine and the staff and the clientele. After hours, she is equally ravenous for attention, for drugs, for love, for sex. She clings to others - the older waitress who becomes her mentor of sorts; the bartender she falls in and out of love with; the co-worker with whom she has life-changing conversations in between lines in the bathroom of the club. This book is great. Smart and well-written.
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay - I love Roxane Gay. I think she's a genius. Her essays are brilliant and I'm happy to say that her fiction is equally so. Mireille is on vacation, visiting her parents in her home country of Haiti. One day, she gets in the car to go to the beach with her husband and her young son, but as soon as they pull out of the gated community her wealthy parents live in, they are stopped and she is taken. Over the next thirteen days, she is violated in every way possible. As the hours, and then the days, pass, she realizes that her father is not going to pay the ransom. She is forced to endure more, more, more. This book is hard. It is brutal in fact. But it's fantastic. I wish it had been written when I was writing my thesis, because it fits so perfectly. Women destroy themselves attempting to fix what men have broken. After Mireille is returned home, we watch her struggle with her life - what it was and what it will be. Her husband tries his best, but is unable to reach her. God, this book is good. I'm trying to wrap this little recap/review up and I'm remembering so many incredible little details that made me love it. So, long story short - read it. Or see the movie when it comes out - Gay is writing the screenplay!
Shrill by Lindy West - I first found Lindy West when she was a writer at Jezebel. Her articles were always smart, clever, witty, and angry. I liked that about her. Shrill is something of a memoir, about Lindy's writing, her weight, her taking on of the trolls. It's about her being a woman in a world that hates women and refusing to apologize. She's strong, she's loud, and she's not afraid of those aspects of herself. This book made me like her even more. And it's being made into a television series! It better do her justice.