Amazon's Best Books of May: Today's Releases

Erin Kodicek on May 08, 2017

BotmFirst up is Bryn Chancellor's brilliant Sycamore, which does not linger on the more prurient aspects of a typical mystery. Instead, this compassionate and character-driven narrative looks at the impact that loss has on a community.

Loss of a completely different kind is explored in Sally Mott Freeman's The Jersey Brothers, the harrowing true story of three brothers serving in the Navy during WWII. It is hoped that the youngest, sent off to the Supply Corps, has the least dangerous gig, but he disappears while en route to the Philippines, and it's up to the remaining two siblings to find him...

Learn more about these books below, or browse all of our favorites for May here.

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Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor
We are given to understand, very early on, that Jess Winters has been dead for a long while. But the circumstances are not clear, even when her body is discovered in the first few chapters, and we are well into the book before mention is made of an investigation into her death. Instead, this quietly affecting novel builds up a picture of an ordinary teen, in an ordinary town, and how her disappearance and the very town itself have become inextricably bound in ways that speak to our ability to navigate love, betrayal, deception, desire, and secrets. Jess is introduced at a low point in her young life: feeling cast aside by her father’s second marriage and newborn daughter, she’s further displaced by a move to a small Arizona town with her mother. Alternating chapters show Jess as the new girl in town prior to her disappearance, and years later, shows those she left behind recollecting the ways both big and small in which Jess had a big effect on the lives around her. The dual timelines are skillfully used to keep the suspense building with regard to solving the mystery of her disappearance but also to gather together the threads of a theme running throughout the novel: how much time we are given, and how we use it, and how even small actions can have effects that ripple across the years. Sycamore is both a mystery and a tragic coming of age story but above all, a bittersweet exploration of the different ways a heart can break and heal. --Vannessa Cronin

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The Jersey Brothers by Sally Mott Freeman
Sally Mott Freeman's The Jersey Brothers is the well-researched true story of three brothers living out a very personal narrative against the backdrop of WWII. Eldest brother Benny was an officer on the USS Enterprise, one of the only vessels to survive Pearl Harbor; and middle son Bill was assigned by Roosevelt to the Map Room in Washington. Youngest brother Barton was sent to the Philippines, where he was expected to be relatively safe—but after a Japanese attack, he was listed as MIA. The Jersey Brothers is the story of a family’s frantic efforts to find and free the youngest brother, while he fights to survive life in a Japanese concentration camp. Author Sally Mott Freeman takes an intimately human approach to this war story, adding a meaningful and memorable chapter to our understanding of the Greatest Generation. --Chris Schluep


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