This week we’re happy to feature an author we’ve admired for some time, and celebrate a new novel that’s shocking, different, and arguably her best yet. If you haven’t read Joyce Maynard, start anywhere: She’ll reinforce that a book is a place not only to go for entertainment, but to seek company.
In her past bestsellers—particularly Labor Day, The Good Daughters—and now her newest book, After Her, Joyce’s writing is the perfect synthesis of a page-turning story that has readers craving the next chapter, and a poignant show-stopper that has us hovering over the highlight button to save quotes and one-liners that resonate so personally, we forget we’re in a story.
From the publisher: About After Her by Joyce Maynard
Summer, 1979. A dry, hot Northern California school vacation stretches before Rachel and her younger sister, Patty—the daughters of a larger-than-life, irresistibly handsome (and chronically unfaithful) detective father and the mother whose heart he broke.
Loosely inspired by the Trailside Killer case that terrorized Marin County, California, in the late 1970s, After Her is part thriller, part love story. Maynard has created a poignant, suspenseful, and painfully real family saga that traces a young girl’s first explorations of sexuality, the loss of innocence, the bond shared by sisters, and the tender but damaged relationship between a girl and her father that endures even beyond the grave.
Author Picks: 5 Coming-of-Age Novels I’ve Loved
About a Boy by Nick Hornby –This novel tells the story of a feckless loser who sets out to meet women at a single parent’s support group by cooking up the story of a two year old son who doesn’t really exist. The child who does—the 12 year old son of one of the women he meets at the group—unexpectedly transforms Hornby’s responsibility-phobic bachelor, in a story that is both tender and hilarious.
The God of War by Marisa Silver—The story of two young brothers, one mentally handicapped, the other equally afflicted by guilt, living on the edge of a hard-scrabble encampment on the edge of the Salton Sea, in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. I have seldom known a writer to create as shining and memorable a portrait of brotherhood.
Anywhere But Here by Mona Simpson—The story here is a coming-of-age road trip featuring the characters of a young girl, Ann, and her mother, Adele, who have set out on a cross country journey, headed for a bright new life in Hollywood. Simpson has created, in the daughter, Ann, a character so brave, resourceful and funny I keep wishing she’d revisit her in some future work, just so I’d know what became of her.
The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe—At the center of this one is the voice of a boy named Francie Brady, growing up in a bleak little town in Ireland, son of an alcoholic father and a deeply disturbed mother. The story of Francie’s own descent into madness and violence, is horrifying and unforgettable, a journey into the darkest places a human heart can go. After I read this one, I remember just sitting there, for a very long time, stunned and shaken but also deeply grateful for the experience of knowing this character. I can never forget him.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank—No voice ever spoke to me, from the page, the way that of Anne Frank did, the first time I read this book, when I was twelve. I’ve read it many times in the years since, and every time I do, I find myself rediscovering her like an old friend, with her humor, sharp insight, and irrepressible hunger to experience the world.
(Click HERE to see all of our Author Picks)
Joyce’s Pick for a Stellar Debut Novelist:
Show Me Good Land by Shonna Milliken Humphrey
The author paints a haunting portrait of a small, dying community in rural Maine, four utterly real and distinct characters that live there, and a murder that cracks their lives open. Humphrey has created a place so real, I could find my way around its streets—a place both utterly believable, and breathtakingly unknown.
Joyce Maynard has been a reporter for the New York Times, a magazine journalist, a radio commentator, and a syndicated columnist, as well as the author of seven previous novels, including To Die For, Labor Day, and The Good Daughters, and four books of nonfiction. Her bestselling memoir, At Home in the World, has been translated into fourteen languages. Maynard’s bestselling novel Labor Day is being adapted for film by Academy Award-nominated director Jason Reitman and stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. Maynard makes her home in Mill Valley, California.