Wordplay TBR Pile: Fiction Part II: Family Stories, Cultural Dramas, and Coming of Age

Hello all current and soon-to-be bibliophiles! I hope you’re all doing well and being social-distancing heroes. I love you for that. With Virtual Wordplay 2020 quickly approaching, I bet you’re itching to get a closer look into all the amazing authors and their works coming to your screens in a matter of weeks! Therefore, I have brought to you a breakdown of all the beautiful and intriguing fiction works coming to Wordplay 2020! 

Works of fiction often reflect parts of ourselves and show the emotions that we thought no one else felt or even knew about. It offers us the opportunity to escape into daring adventures, to gain perspective and grow, to feel giddy when the lovers finally meet, or, simply, to laugh and cry. But, overall, we enjoy fiction because it allows us to feel connected to a story beyond ourselves that’s also somewhat a part of us. From romantic fiction, literary dramas, family and historical dramas, gripping page turners, and every blend between and beyond, there is sure to be a work for everyone coming to virtual Wordplay this spring. 

So, without further ado, dear humans, take a gander at the list below for all your fiction needs! 


Family Stories and Cultural Dramas

Every single one of us has a history, culture, and family that molds the way we perceive the world or how we interact with it, whether good or bad. Where we come from follows us wherever we go, not necessarily in a haunting or ghoulish way, but our past lingers because it is not meant to be quickly forgotten. These works examine various family and cultural dynamics: sibling to sibling, spouse to spouse, ancestor to descendant. With these masterful authors, venture through the history, trauma, culture, and love that often guide our most personal relationships and innermost parts of ourselves.  


Black Sunday - Tola Rotimi Abraham

Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham

Tola Rotimi Abraham examines the power of familial connection and the ruins that estrangement leaves behind. Set in 1996 in Nigeria, we follow four siblings over the course of two decades as they search for power, purpose, and significance in a world wrought with hardship. 



Northernmost by Peter Geye

On a venture to end her marriage, a woman finds herself drawn to the hometown her great-great grandmother left and never returned. A cross-generational story of love and survival, about depths of the human heart and the perseverance it takes to survive through life’s hardships. 



Trans(re)lating House One by Poupeh Missaghi

Following Iran’s 2009 election, a woman undertakes a search for the statues disappearing from Tehran’s public spaces. Navigating grief, trauma, and histories being stolen away, Missaghi powerfully delivers a story about the different ways we translate loss. 



Remembrance by Rita Woods

Rita Woods explores a legacy shared between four women from different times, linked through similar experiences of discrimination and racism. Woods’s debut novel details how loss, grief, memory, and history instruct how we navigate trauma and reclaim triumph in our lives. 



All Adults Here by Emma Straub

Siblings navigating changing dynamics as adults while a matriarch of a growingly dysfunctional family questions whether or not she was a good parent. Insightful and humorous, All Adults Here follows the messiness of a family in transition and provides levity to the struggles that follow us into adulthood and beyond. 



The Wolf's Trail: An Ojibwe Story, Told by Wolves by Thomas D. Peacock

An elder wolf, Zhi-Shay, tells the story of the parallel relationship between the wolves and the Ojibwe to his nieces, nephews, and us. Peacock brings a moving story full of timeless lessons about the Ojibwe, the spirit, and the earth. 



Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

When seven-year-old Nainoa falls overboard on a cruise ship, he is delivered back to his family in the jaws of a shark unharmed and develops various abilities. However, the aftermath of this fateful event ends with a family driven apart. A story of family, heritage, and survival, Sharks in the Time of Saviors follows a family who seems mystically connected to Hawaiian Gods but must fight to reconnect with each other. 


Coming of Age

We all have our stories of who we are and how we became or are becoming so, whether through heartbreak, trauma, loss, triumph, love, or friendship. It is within the amalgamation of things that we grow from and carry with us. These coming-of-age stories detail those various transitional periods we go through. Exploring the history, memories, and trauma that follow us through life, these works allow us to connect to the stories of others that need to be recognized and to reconnect with the parts of ourselves we’ve buried, forgotten, or maybe just miss. 



We Ride Upon Sticks  by Quan Barry

Set in Danvers, Massachusetts, where certain accusations led to the infamous Salem witch trials, an all-female field hockey team strikes up a deal with the devil to have a season of champions. Led by team captain Abby Putnam (descendant of Ann Putnam), We Ride Upon Sticks delightfully follows a team that burns through dated notions of femininity to express their true selves and the true power of friendship. 



Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

 A mother reflects on her dreams deferred while navigating the questions of a growing daughter. A coming-of-age for all ages, Perfect Tunes takes an insightful look at parents before they became parents and explores whether or not lost dreams can ever be reclaimed.



Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Wallace, an introverted yet bold young man, searches for honesty and strength in a world brim full of adversity. Navigating the trauma of being black and queer while attending a predominately white midwestern university, Real Life blazes with self-discovery and finding belonging in a world seemingly stacked against you. 



How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang

Two children are orphaned during the American gold rush and must act quickly if they are to survive in a world that seeks to disenfranchise them. The siblings venture into family secrets, sibling rivalry, and reimagined history, all while trying to grow up. In this magical realism novel, Zhang explores the memory and history that binds us with generations past. 



Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens

High school freshman Boady Sanden is growing up in a town rooted in white supremacy and racial segregation. After an African American woman goes missing—and racial/class divides become clearer than ever—Boady must go on a quest for truth while navigating his own conflicted feelings about the world around him. 


Everywhere You Don't Belong - Gabriel Bump

Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump

 Growing up in the South Side of Chicago, Claude Mckay Love balances the normal hardships of growing up while trying to keep his head down through riots and sensationalized violence. Bump's heartbreaking honest novel is an exploration of belonging or not belonging and of the idea that love always guides us home.