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General Fiction Recommendations

Here is the spot for all of those fiction books that just don't seem to fit into any other category.

Please add a summary of each book, so those that are interested can find out a little more.  Also, please just add new recommendations and not posts that just say "I agree" and "I like that one too".  It will make it a lot easier for everyone to sort through the posts.

         Abigail 5/17/06 and Isabelle 10/17/07

"Life's what you make it - so let's make it rock." - Hannah Montana

by on Jun. 21, 2008 at 9:52 AM
Replies (11-20):
jochims
by on Jun. 23, 2008 at 3:37 PM
Cover Classic Elizabeth Berg, this is an emotionally rich novel about connecting, and reconnecting, to the people in our lives. When Betta Nolan's husband dies, she honors a promise she made to him to move to a small town and start a new life. Without minimizing her great sorrow, she nonetheless attempts to find pleasure on a daily basis. Among the people who help her are the ten-year-old boy next door, three wild women friends from the past with whom she reconnects, a twenty-year-old man/child who is struggling to find his place in the world, and a handsome widower who is ready for love. Reinvention of a self and a life, through love and forming connections between one's past, present, and future is at the heart of this beautiful novel

This is a really good read and book i couldn't put it down J

j_l_b
by on Jun. 23, 2008 at 6:40 PM

by dag57 on Sep. 12, 2007 at 11:22 PM

So many great books mentioned.....one in my top 5 all time favs that hasn't been mentioned yet is A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving....makes me sigh just thinking about it!

Title:  A Prayer For Owen Meany

Author:  John Irving

Genre:  Fiction (1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die)

Summary:  Owen Meany, the only child of a New Hampshire granite quarrier, believes he is God's instrument; he is.

j_l_b
by on Jun. 23, 2008 at 11:20 PM

by anjhstmom on Sep. 13, 2007 at 11:13 AM

I LOVE anything written by Alice Hoffman.

Title:  Here on Earth

Author:  Alice Hoffman

Genre:  Fiction (Oprah's Book Club AND 1001 Books To Read Before You Die)

Summary: 

After nearly twenty years of living in California, March Murray, along with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Gwen, returns to the sleepy Massachusetts town where she grew up to attend the funeral of Judith Dale, the beloved housekeeper who raised her. Yet returning to her hometown also brings her back to Hollis, March's former soul mate and lover. March's father had taken the teenaged Hollis, an abandoned child, and the product of a series of detention homes, into his house as a boarder, and treated him like a son. Yet March and Hollis's passionate love was hardly a normal sibling relationship. When Hollis left her after a petty fight, March waited for him three long years, wondering what she had done wrong.

Encountering Hollis again makes March acutely aware of the choices that she has made, and the choices everyone around her has made--including Mrs. Dale, who knew more of love than March could ever have suspected, and her brother Alan, whose tragic history has left him grief-struck, with alcohol as his only solace. Her attraction to Hollis is overwhelming and March jeopardizes her marriage, her relationship with her daughter and her own happiness in an attempt to reclaim the past.

SueMac
by on Jun. 24, 2008 at 6:54 AM
I recently read and would recommend:

Dear American Airlines (Jonathan Myles), The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (Maggie O'Farrell), and What I Was (Meg Rosoff).
j_l_b
by on Jun. 24, 2008 at 11:36 AM
by Gooneybird on Aug. 24, 2007 at 2:04 PM

TITLE:  Little Children

AUTHOR:  Tom Perrotta

GENRE:  Fiction (Made Into A Movie)

SUMMARY:  Tom Perrotta's thirty-ish parents of young children are a varied and surprising bunch. There's Todd, the handsome stay-at-home dad dubbed "The Prom King" by the moms of the playground; Sarah, a lapsed feminist with a bisexual past, who seems to have stumbled into a traditional marriage; Richard, Sarah's husband, who has found himself more and more involved with a fantasy life on the internet than with the flesh and blood in his own house; and Mary Ann, who thinks she has it all figured out, down to scheduling a weekly roll in the hay with her husband, every Tuesday at 9pm. They all raise their kids in the kind of sleepy American suburb where nothing ever seems to happen-at least until one eventful summer, when a convicted child molester moves back to town, and two restless parents begin an affair that goes further than either of them could have imagined. Unexpectedly suspenseful, but written with all the fluency and dark humor of Perrotta's previous novels, Little Children exposes the adult dramas unfolding amidst the swingsets and slides of an ordinary American playground.



TITLE:  Joe College

AUTHOR:  Tom Perrotta

GENRE:  Fiction

SUMMARY: 

For many Ivy League college students, spring break means a raucous road trip to a spot in the sun. For Danny, a Yale junior, the spring of 1982 means two weeks behind the wheel of the "Roach Coach," his dad's lunch truck in central New Jersey. But Danny can use the time behind the coffee urn to try and make sense of a love life that's gotten a little complicated. There's loyal and patient hometown honey Cindy and her recently-dropped bombshell to contend with. And there's also lissome Polly in New Haven--with her shifting moods, perfect thrift store dresses and inconvenient liaison with a dashing professor. If girl problems aren't enough, there's the menace of the Lunch Monsters, a group of thugs who think Danny has planted the "Roach Coach" in their territory.



TITLE:  Wish You Were Here

AUTHOR:  Stewart O'Nan

GENRE:  Fiction

SUMMARY:  Award-winning writer Stewart O'Nan has been acclaimed by critics as one of today's most accomplished novelists and hailed by The New York Times as "a master of voices and the place they resonate from, of human rhythms and the universal rhythms they cut across." Now, with Wish You Were Here, he reaches a new level of achievement, weaving together the lives and desires of three generations of an American family gathered together for one final summer week at their summer cottage. A year after the death of her husband, Henry, Emily Maxwell summons her family to their vacation house on Lake Chautauqua, in western New York, one last time before selling the place. Joining her is her sister-in-law Arlene, a retired schoolteacher who silently mourns the passing of the lake house from her family's hands and is still wounded from a love lost long ago. Emily's firebrand daughter, Meg, a recovering alcoholic recently separated from her husband, brings her children from Detroit -- the blossoming Sarah and the timid Justin. Emily's son, Ken, a struggling photographer who quit his job and mortgaged his future to pursue his art, brings his wife, Lisa, who is secretly heartened to be visiting the house for the last time -- and not-so-secretly cool to her prickly mother-in-law -- and their children, the bookish Ella and the troubled Sam. With honesty and generosity, O'Nan inhabits each character during the course of their week together, illuminating the many lives of the Maxwell family as memories of past summers resurface, old rivalries flare up, and love is rekindled and born anew. Poignant and resonant, Wish You Were Here is a magical book whose beauties are as moving as a summer storm and as brilliant as the glint of sun on water.



TITLE:  The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

AUTHOR:  Roddy Doyle

GENRE:  Fiction

Summary:  This is the heart-rending story of a woman struggling to reclaim her dignity after a violent, abusive marriage and a worsening drink problem. Paula Spencer recalls her contented childhood, the audacity she learned as a teenager, the exhilaration of her romance with Charlo and the marriage to him that left her powerless. Capturing both her vulnerability and her strength, Doyle gives Paula a voice that is real and unforgettable.



TITLE:  Paula Spencer

AUTHOR:  Roddy Doyle

GENRE:  Fiction

SUMMARY:  Ten years after the bestselling The Woman Who Walked into Doors, Roddy Doyle resurrects one of his greatest characters

When Roddy Doyle published The Woman Who Walked into Doors in 1996, critics and readers alike hailed it as a tour de force of literary ventriloquism that captured both the vulnerability and strength of a thirty-nine-year-old Dublin housewife with a fondness for drink. Now, Doyle triumphantly returns to Paula Spencer with the moving tale of her fight for a better future.



TITLE:  The Secret History

AUTHOR:  Donna Tartt

Genre:  Fiction/1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

SUMMARY:  The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.

In this brilliant debut novel, Donna Tartt gives us a richly textured and hypnotic story of golden youth corrupted by its own moral arrogance.

Richard Papen had never been to New England before his nineteenth year. Then he arrived at Hampeden College and quickly became seduced by the sweet, dark rhythms of campus life -- in particular by an elite group of five students, Greek scholars, worldly, self-assured, and at first glance, highly unapproachable.

Yet as Richard was accepted and drawn into their inner circle, he learned a terrifying secret that bound them to one another ... a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brough to brutal life ... and lead to a gruesome death. And that was just the beginning ...

Paula is now almost forty-eight years old. Her abusive husband Charlo is long dead, and it's been four months and five days since she's had a drink. Her youngest children, Jack and Leanne, are still living with her, but she worries about Leanne. Paula continues to work as a cleaner, and the fridge is often half empty. But for the first time in her life she is going to parent-teacher meetings, and she's bought a CD player for the kitchen, where she surprises her sisters with her taste for U2 and The White Stripes. Readers will root for Paula as she slowly begins to put her life back together. She's even met a man at the bottle return; he's nice, there's something steady about him. Told with the unmistakable wit of his extraordinary voice, this is a redemptive tale that will have Doyle fans cheering.



TITLE:  The Memory Of Running


AUTHOR:  Ron McLarty

GENRE:  Fiction

SUMMARY:  a guy who finds himself riding his bike across the US and reflecting on what his life has become.



TITLE:  Fireworks

AUTHOR:  Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop

GENRE:  Fiction

SUMMARY:  Hollis Clayton is in trouble. His wife has decamped to her sister’s house for the summer, leaving him to pursue without interruption his increasingly overwhelming compulsions: drinking; spying on the neighbors; following with rising anxiety the fate of a recently abducted local girl, hauntingly portrayed on a nearby billboard; confronting, as obliquely as possible, the loss of his young son; and avoiding his editor at New York’s preeminent publishing house, who is on the verge of rejecting his new collection of stories. In the meantime, he has more immediate difficulties: a stray dog with whom he is forced to share his nightly Mexican takeout; a back injury resulting from an adventure on his neighbor’s trampoline; and his girlfriend, Marissa, who has either abandoned him or been abandoned by him, he’s not sure which.

From the vantage point of his front porch, it seems to Hollis that the daily rhythms of his disintegrating life have begun to seem eerily inflected with meaning. Bewildered by what is either life’s total arbitrariness or its suffocating overdetermination, Hollis is stuck somewhere between wonder and paralysis, with his troubled soul hanging in the balance. Before the close of this strange summer he will either slip beyond hope of recovery into a haze of lassitude and alcoholism, or find some promise, however vague, of redemption.

In an eviscerating comic portrait of suburban despair, Elizabeth Winthrop captures the mysterious seasons of a man’s inner and outer life—marriage, grief, existential confusion, and finally, unforgettably, abiding love—and the human spirit’s insistent and sometimes incongruous motion toward grace. A marvelous debut by a precocious new talent.



TITLE:  The Madman's Tale

AUTHOR:  John Katzenbach

GENRE:  Fiction

SUMMARY:  It's been twenty years since Western State Hospital was closed down and the last of its inmates reintegrated into society. Francis Petrel was barely out of his teens when his family committed him to the asylum, after his erratic behavior culminated in a terrifying outburst. Now middle-aged, he leads an aimless, solitary life housed in a cheap apartment, periodically tended to by his sisters, and perpetually medicated to quiet the chorus of voices in his head. But a reunion on the grounds of the shuttered institution stirs something deep in Francis's troubled mind: dark memories he thought he had laid to rest, about the grisly events that led to Western State Hospital's demise.

It begins in 1979, when twenty-one-year-old Petrel descends into the state-run purgatory of an overcrowded, understaffed Massachusetts mental hospital. Surrounded by inmates roaming the halls like drugged zombies and raving behind locked doors, well-meaning orderlies, jaded nurses, and patronizing doctors, Francis finds friendship with a motley assortment of fellow patients: a would-be Napoleon, a wise ex-firefighter, and a man obsessed with battling imagined devils. But there's nothing imaginary about the young nurse found sexually assaulted and brutally murdered late one night after lights-out.

The police suspect an inmate, while patients whisper about visions of a white-shrouded "angel". But the striking and mysterious prosecuting attorney who arrives to investigate has her own chilling theory about the grim, telltale "signature" left on the victim's body, a string of unsolved sex killings, and a very real devil who, by chance or design, has come to turn a madhouse into a slaughterhouse.

Now, with the past creeping back to haunt his thoughts, and nothing but a pencil and the bare walls of his bleak apartment, Francis surrenders to the overwhelming need to tell the story of those nightmarish days. But because the crime was never solved, it's a story doomed to remain unfinished. Until, like Francis' long-buried recollections, the killer resurfaces...with a vengeance.

A tour de force narrative journey through the eerily unpredictable mind of an utterly unusual hero, The Madman's Tale will keep even the most astute thriller reader uncertain, unnerved, and unable to resist the tantalizing twists and turns of this fiendishly suspenseful shadow show.



TITLE:  What Happened To Henry

AUTHOR:  Sharon Pywell

GENRE:  Fiction

SUMMARY:  Nine-year-old Lauren Cooper and her volatile younger brother Winston look up to their brother Henry for comfort and guidance. But Henry's steadfastness starts to crack when he seems to inhabit the mind of another person-a gentle Japanese man who witnessed the destruction of Hiroshima.

As the Cooper children stumble into adulthood, Lauren suspects something about her brother's "illness" that everyone is overlooking. And if she can understand what's happening to him, perhaps everything else-her family, her faith, her future-will start to make sense as well.

Funny, moving, and wise, What Happened to Henry is a powerful tale of a family's struggle towards understanding-and their fight to make sense of the world in which they live.
j_l_b
by on Jun. 24, 2008 at 12:03 PM

by PistachiosMom on Sep. 13, 2007 at 11:27 AM

TITLE:  Invisible Monsters

AUTHOR:  Chuck Palahniuk

GENRE:  Fiction

SUMMARY:  An intriguing story about a beautiful model that has her face blown off and deals with back-stabbing, cross-dressing friends, and homosexual boyfriends. This book is amazing with so many twists and turns, you are constantly on the edge of your seat.
j_l_b
by on Jun. 24, 2008 at 12:09 PM
by dag57 on Sep. 15, 2007 at 12:53 AM

TITLE:  Widow For One Year

AUTHOR:  John Irving

GENRE:  Fiction

SUMMARY:  Ruth Cole is a complex, often self-contradictory character--a "difficult" woman. By no means is she conventionally "nice," but she will never be forgotten.

Ruth's story is told in three parts, each focusing on a crucial time in her life. When we first meet her--on Long Island, in the summer of 1958--Ruth is only four.

The second window into Ruth's life opens in the fall of 1990, when Ruth is an unmarried woman whose personal life is not nearly as successful as her literary career. She distrusts her judgment in men, for good reason.

A Widow for One Year closes in the autumn of 1995, when Ruth Cole is a forty-one-year-old widow and mother. She's about to fall in love for the first time.

Richly comic, as well as deeply disturbing A Widow for One Year is a multilayered love story of astonishing emotional force. Both ribald and erotic, it is also a brilliant novel about the passage of time and the relentlessness of grief.
j_l_b
by on Jun. 24, 2008 at 1:02 PM

by hea210 on Sep. 29, 2007 at 10:51 PM

TITLE:  The World According To Garp

AUTHOR:  John Irving

GENRE:  Fiction (Made Into A Movie)

SUMMARY:  This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields--a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes--even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with "lunacy and sorrow"; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries--with more than ten million copies in print--this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases."

j_l_b
by on Jun. 24, 2008 at 1:13 PM

by swtbbysmom on Oct. 8, 2007 at 5:48 PM

TITLE:  Zenzele

AUTHOR:  J. Nozipo Maraire

GENRE:  Fiction

SUMMARY:  Written as a letter from a Zimbabwean mother to her daughter, a student at Harvard, J. Nozipo Maraire evokes the moving story of a mother reaching out to her daughter to share the lessons life has taught her and bring the two closer than ever before. Interweaving history and memories, disappointments and dreams, Zenzele tells the tales of Zimbabwe's struggle for independence and the men and women who shaped it: Zenzele's father, an outspoken activist lawyer; her aunt, a schoolteacher by day and secret guerrilla fighter by night; and her cousin, a maid and a spy.

Rich with insight, history, and philosophy, Zenzele is a powerful and compelling story that is both revolutionary and revelatory--the story of one life that poignantly speaks of all lives.

j_l_b
by on Jun. 24, 2008 at 1:20 PM

by isleysmom on Oct. 30, 2007 at 1:41 PM

Title : Nineteen Minutes

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Adult

Summary: This story is about a school shooting.  Picoult is amazing at pulling you in. The story is told from the perspective of the shooter, a victim, 2 parents and the detective. It was so well written that I found myself wanting to talk about it as if it had really happened!




Title: The Tenth Circle 

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Adult (Made Into A TV Movie)

Summary : This is about a father who is a comic book writer and the life he left behind in Alaska. When his teenage daughter runs away it chronicles what it takes to get her back. Wonderfully written, I dare someone not to get "sucked in".
I actually love everything that I have read by her. I also read GREAT books by an author name E. Lynn Harris. They are about the trial and tribulations of his characters, there are some explicit sex scenes, just a for warning if you are offended easily.
Thanks for the suggestions from everyone else. I'm so excited to read some new great books!!

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