It’s not time to hit the beach just yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a bit of spring reading. Perfect for a rainy day or an afternoon in the sun, these spring reads range from a new biography of Elvis Presley to touching stories about family ties and a horror story turned inside out.
Being Elvis: A Lonely Life by Ray Connolly (March 21)
Veteran rock journalist Ray Connolly re-examines the man who so altered the American music landscape. This new biography provides a fresh perspective on Elvis’s improbable life, outsized influence and death, which still resonates deeply in our culture. Connolly’s account of the King starts with the fateful moment his parents bought him a guitar at a Tupelo hardware store and shows how an amphetamine addiction allowed him to maintain the insane pace of being a teen idol. Elvis was on the verge of financial destitution and feared he would be forgotten when he died, but despite these harsh realities, Being Elvis reminds us why Bob Dylan could remark: “Hearing Elvis for the first time was like busting out of jail. I thank God for Elvis Presley.”
The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall
Called a “purely wonderful book about growing up, about growing old, about never going gently into any kind of night” by Joshilyn Jackson, The Book of Polly continues the tradition of funny Southern fiction. The mother-daughter story of 10-year-old Willow and her take no prisoners mother, Polly, who lives to shoot varmints and keep her secrets to herself, is based in part on Kathy Hepinstall’s owner mother. From a young age, Willow has been terrified that Polly will die. Lonely and disconnected from the other kids in the neighborhood, she finds herself constantly trying to mediate for her unedited mother. But when Polly gets cancer, the pair must undertake a danger-filled journey down a river to Polly’s home, where she is forced to come to terms with her tragic past.
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she’s allergic to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from. Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job. It’s there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son. Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad, and man, he wants so desperately to be. Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can’t understand why she keeps him at arm’s length. Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer.
The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton (April 11)
After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle bed and breakfast in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to tie up loose ends and then return to her busy life and antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, Sara learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it—despite the fact that her friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there. During the renovation, Sara discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life she never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara beings to piece together the bravery, passion and choices that changed Mags’s destiny.
The Legend of the Albino Farm by Steve Yates (April 11)
The Legend of the Albino Farm is a horror story turned inside out. What if a thriving family were saddled with an unshakable spook tale? And what if that lore cursed them with an unending whirlwind of destruction from thrill seekers, partiers, bikers and Goths? Hettienne Sheehy is about to inherit this devouring legacy. Last child to bear a once golden name, she is heiress to a sprawling farm in the Missouri Ozarks. During summer, childhood idylls in the late 1940s, Hettienne has foreseen all this apocalyptic fury in frightening, mystifying visions. Haunted by a whirling augury, by a hurtful spook tale and by a property that seems to doom all who would dare own it, in the end, Hettienne will risk everything to save the family she truly loves.
The River of Kings by Taylor Brown (March 21)
“Like a great body of water itself, The River of Kings is one moment grace and serenity, and the next moment hazard and threat … ” says Michael Farris Smith. Brown follows up his debut novel Fallen Land with brothers Hunter and Lawton setting off to kayak the Altamaha River, Georgia’s “Little Amazon,” bearing their father’s ashes. Both young men were raised by an angry, enigmatic shrimper who loved the river and whose death remains a mystery that his sons hope to resolve. As they proceed downriver, their story is interwoven with that of Jacques Le Moyne, an artist who accompanied the 1564 expedition to found a French settlement at the river’s mouth—a journey that ended in ruin and bloodshed. Brown weaves three narrative strands, the brothers’ journey, their father’s past and the dramatic history of the river’s earliest people, to evoke a legendary place and its powerful hold on the human imagination.
The Shimmering Road by Hester Young
Fans of The Gates of Evangeline can rejoice in the second installment of Hester Young’s Charlie Cates trilogy. This time Young moves from the Louisiana swamp to the deserts of Arizona and Mexico border towns, where Charlie’s new set of dreams take her deep into a chilling mystery. Unsettling images of a violent attack on both her and the baby girl she’s carrying, coupled with news that her estranged mother has been murdered in a double homicide, send Charlie from her home in Texas to Tucson, Arizona. Once there, Charlie turns up more questions than answers and runs headlong into extreme poverty, rampant corruption and doubts about her own ability to be part of a family unit. Can she expose the killer before she and her unborn child are the next victims?
All Abel wants is a little bit of magic in his life, enough money so his mom doesn’t cry at night, healing for his broken body—and maybe a few answers about his past. When he discovers letters to him from the dad he believed dead, Abel wonders if magic has come to the hills of Mattingly, Virginia, after all. With a lot of questions and a little bit of hope, Abel decides to run away to find the truth. Danger follows him as he jumps a boxcar and has to rely on his simpleminded friend Willie, already wanted for murder, and a beautiful young woman on board the train. From Appalachia to the Tennessee wilds and through the Carolina mountains, the name of a single small town beckons: Fairhope. Abel believes that is where his magic lays, but will it one day lead him home?
South and West by Joan Didion
Compiled of two extended excerpts from Joan Didion’s never before seen notebooks, these writings offer a glimpse into the mind of a legendary author. South and West traces a road trip she took with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, in June 1970, through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. She interviews prominent local figures, describes motels, diners, a deserted reptile farm, a visit with Walker Percy and a ladies’ brunch at the Mississippi Broadcasters’ Convention. From a different notebook, the “California Notes” that began as an assignment from Rolling Stone on the Patty Hearst trial of 1976 were never published, but watching the trial and being in San Francisco triggered thoughts about the city, its social hierarchy, the Hearsts and Didion’s own upbringing in Sacramento.
The Weight of This World by David Joy
Megan Abbott calls David Joy’s second novel “a tale of exquisite grit … willing to go all the dark places.” In his followup to The Weight of This World, Joy again takes readers deep into the brooding landscape and hardscrabble lives of the mountains of North Carolina. Aiden McCall and Thad Broom have been inseparable friends since childhoods marked by violence and neglect. Now in their mid-twenties, the two young men survive by illegally stripping the valuable materials out of foreclosed houses at night, the rest of the time drinking and scoring meth or oxy to ease the pain of living. Things go from bad to worse when, during a drug transaction, Aiden and Thad witness meth lord Wayne Bryson accidentally shoot himself. Their first response is to run, but returning to the scene of the crime could prove more valuable—or it could trigger a chain of regrettable actions and violence that will forever determine their fate.