Elizabeth Hay, His Whole Life (McLelland & Stewart)
It's the mid-1990s and Quebec is poised for its second referendum when Jim travels with his parents to his mother's childhood home on a lake in Ontario. What follows next is the everyday meat of any family saga as Jim comes of age and finds out more than he ever cared to about his parents. Elizabeth Hay is an amazing talent with dialogue and a particular turn of phrase that sits with you long past the last page, and His Whole Life is no exception. A study on forgiveness, family and the particular bond a mother has with her son, Hay has been grossly overlooked this awards season—don't make the same mistake.
Clementine von Radics, Mouthful of Forevers (Andrews McMeel)
In the Unlikely Event (Knopf)
Judy Blume delivers an epic story spanning three decades in her hotly anticipated return to fiction. It's the early 1950s and Miri Ammerman is 15 when several planes fall out of the sky and crash into her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey—a tragedy that spurs a safety inquest into plane travel and marks the path a host of characters take in their lives to come. Thirty-five years later, Miri is returning to a commemoration of the tragedy and to cross paths with people she thought she'd left behind. A masterful storyteller, Blume gets every detail right in this look at what happens to a town when the worst happens, but life has no choice but to move on.
Laura Dave, Eight Hundred Grapes (Simon & Schuster)
A cinematic novel set on a Sonoma vineyard that's already been optioned for a movie version, Dave's signature humourous style lends lightness to a novel grappling with secrets and the weight of legacy. Thirty-year-old Georgia heads home to her family's vineyard on the eve of her wedding where she's confronted with a world changing—her parents are newly separated and planning to sell the vineyard, her brothers are dealing with their own demons and Georgia isn't sure she can marry a man with the secrets he's been carrying. Eight Hundred Grapes is a light and enjoyable read that will lend itself perfectly to the big screen.
Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies (Riverhead Books)
Lauren Holmes, Barbara the Slut and Other People (Harper Collins)
Robert Gailbraith, Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3) (Sphere Books)
J.K. Rowling writing under her pen name takes all of the energy she imbued the Harry Potter series with and injects it into the third book in her mystery series which sees a darker, grittier side of Cormoran Strike than we're used to when his assistant Robin is sent a severed leg in the mail and Strike is convinced one of three men in his past must have done it. Chapters flit back and forth between characters, even allowing a couple to the serial killer and his fixation with Strike and Robin. The best in the series so far, Rowling really finds her footing in this deftly written page-turner.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Speigel & Grau)
Shannon Webb-Campbell, Still No Word (Breakwater Books)
Vendela Vida, The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty (Harper
When a woman travelling alone to Casablanca gets robbed checking into her hotel, she has little choice but to follow the path police set out for her: Offering up another woman's life in the form of ID and credit cards. She slips into the new identity like a fish into water and through it accepts each new adventure that knocks on her door. Vida's beautifully written novel is a mystery that is more about what led the protagonist to escape to Morocco than what happens to her there, each turn quietly and elegantly surprising until the last stop.