Saving the best for last, May ends on a high note with a long weekend for Memorial Day. But we don’t have to wait for a long weekend to spend our free time with one or two of May’s best new books and audiobooks. This month’s releases highlight diverse voices from authors and protagonists alike.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month brings exciting new novels from AAPI authors, including the long-awaited new one from Cutting for Stone author Abraham Verghese, another potential BookTok banger from R.F. Kuang (Babel, The Poppy War), and Hayley Kiyoko’s debut novel based on her hit music video “Girls Like Girls.” Plus, award-winning Latin writers Sonora Reyes (The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School), Vincent Tirado (Burn Down, Rise Up), and Héctor Tobar (The Last Great Road Bum) deliver highly anticipated fiction and nonfiction, while Native author Angeline Boulley (Firekeeper's Daughter) tackles cultural appropriation in a lively heist plot. You’ll also find YA and adult stories with queer, autistic, and deaf protagonists, offering a wide spectrum of experiences to explore and understand.
Complement these novels with a nonfiction account of the modern Space Race by an Elon Musk expert, a new Bridgerton collaboration by Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhimes, plus a Western noir set during the pandemic.
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The long-awaited latest by Verghese (Cutting for Stone) is a family saga that unfolds over much of 20th-century India, giving readers a glimpse of the nation’s changing cultural landscape. It follows three generations of a family that’s simultaneously cursed with tragedy and blessed with gifts of sharp intelligence and creativity. Whether it's describing the gorgeous landscape or a breakthrough medical procedure, Verghese’s lush prose is rare and moving.
Ask Again, Yes author Keane is back with a midlife story of dreams dashed and a marriage on the rocks in this moving, slow burn drama. Malcolm finally managed to buy the Half Moon, the bar where he’s worked for years, but is struggling to make the payments. Jess wants a baby more than anything, but multiple rounds of expensive IVF have failed. Set over the course of a week in their small town, the couple navigates longing and disappointment as a blizzard hits and a regular at the Half Moon goes missing.
This immersive debut is a coming-of-age tale, fraught family saga, and a cultural history, all revealed through the ongoing trauma caused by the U.S. annexation of Hawaii. It follows the women of the Naupaka family, including young Hi'i, who wants to continue her great-grandmother’s legacy of hula despite being ostracized for her paternal lineage. Hakes reveals a Hawaii that only Hawaiins know in Hula.
Nicole belongs to the Nigerwives, a group of foreign women who married into high society in Lagos, Nigeria. Her life seems picture perfect — until she vanishes without a trace. Nicole’s aunt Claudine travels to Lagos to find her niece, and her search slowly reveals the truth about Nicole’s not-so-idyllic life and marriage. Divided between the “before” and “after,” and delivered from dual perspectives, Walters’ adult debut uses a thriller plot to dissect power imbalances, patriarchal cultures, and the choices women make to survive.
A sweeping debut on how racism and misogyny alter our stories and shape future generations, Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? begins with the death of an elderly Hollywood starlet. When a shocking secret is found in her old journals, it shakes her wealthy Black neighbors, the St. John sisters, to the core. Paul revisits the Golden Age of Cinema through Kitty’s reflections, revealing the many ways women and people of color had to sacrifice their identities and dignities to be seen.
Return to Sugar Island, the setting of Firekeeper's Daughter, in Boulley’s standalone sophomore novel. While interning for the Ojibwe Tribal Council, Perry Firekeeper-Birch learns that a local university is wrongly holding the remains of a Native girl. Perry, her twin Pauline, and their fellow interns concoct a plan to return “Warrior Girl” to her Anishinaabe ancestors. Though Warrior Girl Unearthed is a lively YA heist, it explores deeper themes like repatriation and the epidemic of violence against Indigenous Women.
In a new YA story by Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda), Imogen, a proud LGBTQ+ ally, visits her friend Lili at college, where she discovers Lili has told everyone Imogen is her bisexual ex. Even more confusing, Imogen starts to doubt her own straight identity after meeting Lili’s charismatic roommate, Tessa. A heartfelt story of sexual awakening and personal exploration, this coming-of-age romance is an authentic portrayal of how societal norms shape our identities — and the courage it takes to forge a new path.
Sparks fly when Ander, a nonbinary artist, meets Santi, a waiter at Ander’s family’s taqueria. Their blossoming relationship fuels Ander’s art and identity, but their love is tested when ICE comes looking for Santi, who’s undocumented. This story contrasts the warmth of community, home, and young love with the cold realities of the U.S. immigration system. Garza Villa (Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun) is one to watch.
Drawing on personal and collective experiences, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tobar (The Last Great Road Bum) examines commonly held beliefs about the “Latino” identity in America. Moving between his native L.A. and other “Latino” enclaves across the country, Tobar’s lyrical essays cover the many missing pieces in “Latino” and Hispanic stereotypes, and how the popular yet reductive “non-white” identity fails to represent and respect one of the largest people groups in the nation.
Vance (a Bloomberg Businessweek journalist and author of Elon Musk), gives a vivid account of recent attempts to commodify outer space. Unlike the Space Race of the 20th century, the modern race is between private companies rather than governments, and it’s for profit rather than glory. In storytelling style, Vance profiles the four main companies who’ve made aerospace advancements over the last two decades and explores where these developments may take us in the future.
When her mom goes missing, Nigeria Jones, who’s been raised by her father in a Black separatist group, unearths family secrets that shake, and expand, her worldview. Award-winning YA author Zoboi (Pride, Punching the Air) delivers the powerful story of a young Black woman discovering and embracing her own identity. An inspiring tale about defying expectations and fighting for who you are.
A pitch-perfect, enemy-to-lovers queer reimagining of Bend it Like Beckham. When longtime rivals Vale and Leticia are forced to co-captain a soccer team, their instincts are to attack, rather than assist. But with scouts in the stands, the girls must team up or risk benching their dreams of playing college ball. As their partnership grows on the pitch, it kicks off a mutual crush off the field, too.
A writer reckons with the end of her marriage by looking to inspirational women who defied social expectations. Biggs (All Day Long) blends her personal experiences with profiles of some of the finest and most counterculture female writers, including Mary Wollstonecraft, Zora Neale Hurston, and Virginia Woolf. Their collective stories reveal a portrait of courage, desire, and refusing to settle.
Get ready to cringe, chuckle, and text all your friends about this captivating look at contemporary queer life and its generational divides. Three queer couples get together for a 10-day vacation in New York, but they can’t get away from all their messy, competitive baggage. A sexy, subversive, and revealing love story that digs into the meaning of desire and our destructive need to perform for likes, online and IRL.
Tirado (winner of the 2023 Pura Belpré Award for Burn Down, Rise Up) delivers a thriller filled with both paranormal and real-world horrors. Bronwyn’s family temporarily relocates to the small town of Hillwoods, Arkansas, to care for her dying grandmother. Not only is Hillwoods predominantly white, but it also has eerie superstitions about going near the water. As Bronwyn delves further into urban legends, she has shocking realizations about her own family and the town’s racial history.
Speak to yourself like you would to a friend in crisis — with compassion rather than cruelty — and you’ll unlock the secret to lasting happiness. Journalist Headlee researched self-compassion with rigor and found that, far from making people soft, it makes them strong. This Scribd Original lays out the benefits and best practices of self-compassion so you can start treating yourself better today.
White’s debut follows three generations of an immigrant family as their lives (and deaths) unfold in a gentrifying neighborhood of Brooklyn. Though they contend with incredible loss — of family, home, and sense of self — the ghosts of what came before are never far away. We Are a Haunting is a family saga as well as a love letter to New York, particularly the working-class neighborhoods that sustain it.
This vital, timely, and beautifully diverse YA story by National Book Award finalist Reyes (The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School) deals with consent and finding one’s voice. Ari Ruiz is a queer, autistic high schooler dealing with social isolation. When Ari is sexually assaulted by Luis, her cute and popular classmate, she finds a supportive community in a surprising place: a group of other students hurt by Luis. And they all want to get back at him. Trigger warnings apply, as seen in the author’s note.
In her debut novel, sapphic icon Kiyoko (whose fans lovingly call her “Lesbian Jesus”) expands on her hit music video “Girls Like Girls.” Kiyoko dives deeper into the messy, beautiful, heavy, and hopeful love story developing between Coley and Sonya, as the two young women come to terms with their feelings and fight the fears getting in the way of their happiness. Narrated by an all-queer cast, including Kiyoko, this audiobook makes the perfect soundtrack, especially when paired with the song on repeat.
About the Author: Lanie Pemberton
Lanie is a San Diego-based freelance writer with many Scribd Snapshots and recommended reading lists under her belt. She loves reading about animals and the natural world, with plenty of murder mysteries peppered in. When she needs a break from writing and reading, Lanie can be found taking long walks under the SoCal sun, usually alongside her husband and pampered pittie, Peach.