A woman from India makes a cathartic journey across the United States to find out what happened to her son, and a decoy who ensnares philandering husbands is enlisted to solve a murder: America for Beginners and Believe Me are Best Books of the Month picks, available starting today.
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America for Beginners is a road trip novel that follows an unlikely trio of characters as they travel across the United States together, and it’s everything you would want it to be: funny, heartwarming, sad and illuminating. Pival Sengupta, a wealthy Indian widow, has never left Kolkata, but upon her husband’s death she decides to travel to America to find out the truth about her estranged son, Rahi, whom she and her husband abandoned when they learned he was gay. Satya is her tour guide, a young Bangladeshi immigrant, and Rebecca is her female companion (for propriety sake), a sprite young American woman trying to make it as an actress. Though they couldn’t be more different, the three form an enduring bond as they travel from New York to Niagara Falls, New Orleans and finally to California—all the while learning from one another about the different ways to view the world and to experience it. Throughout the novel, Leah Franqui explores the power of heartbreak, family, and what it means to move on—from a loved one, a country and the past. America for Beginners is absorbing and alive and will make you laugh, cry and think about what it means to belong. —Al Woodworth
There were times while reading JP Delaney’s Believe Me where I asked myself, what the hell is going on?! Not out of frustration, but rather out of admiration for Delaney’s ability to keep me guessing. The novel centers around a murder, a struggling actress, and the dark nature of Baudelaire’s poetry. And if you think you know unreliable narrators, just wait until you meet the actress Claire. The trope is familiar: a woman is brutally killed in a hotel room; is her husband the killer? Claire finds herself playing a part in this all-too-real drama in order to rid herself of suspicion and to help catch what now appears to be a serial killer. But is she really acting? Is she crazy? Is she the killer? The story winds this way and that, and my allegiance to Claire followed suit, until Delaney’s over-the-top ending arrived. For some, the final acts of Believe Me may push their limits for suspending disbelief. But for me, the events leading up to the final act were so dramatic that a flamboyant conclusion was the only way out. —Seira Wilson