From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:
If You See Me, Don't Say Hi: Stories by Neel Patel (Flatiron Books, $24.99, 9781250183194). "Neel Patel's debut short story collection is filled with tales of imperfection and longing, of unfulfilled wishes that fight hard against expectations. His flawed characters know what they risk when their actions don't match the standard script of perfection they've been handed, but their need for love and acceptance always prevails, sometimes with heartbreaking results. Patel's empathy toward his characters is palpable, as is the effect of his gorgeously rendered sentences. If You See Me, Don't Say Hi is a wonderful read: necessary, aching, and alive." --Mo Daviau, Powell's Books for Home and Garden, Portland, Ore.
An Ocean of Minutes: A Novel by Thea Lim (Touchstone, $26, 9781501192555). "Polly signs on as a bondswoman with a time travel company to save the life of her boyfriend, Frank. They plan to meet in the future, but Polly is off by five years and arrives disoriented, vulnerable, and alone, with Frank nowhere to be found. This imagined future is as disorienting to the reader as it is to Polly, as Lim leaves us with no hints about who to trust and no understanding of societal rules. I was absolutely blown away by the layered depths of Lim's story. The ending left me reeling and wanting more, and my mind keeps returning to the way Lim describes the power of time to change a person. How many lives do we live in the course of one lifetime?" --Susan Scott, Secret Garden Bookshop, Seattle, Wash.
See What I Have Done: A Novel by Sarah Schmidt (Grove Press, $16, 9780802128133). "See What I Have Done is a spellbinding historic reimagining of a Gothic tale many of us grew up knowing about. Schmidt brings to life all the characters in Lizzie Borden's world and takes the reader on an adventure through time and the investigation into the murder of her parents. Schmidt uses context to make the moment in history as much of a character as the people in the story, and the lively characters will keep you transfixed on the murder mystery. It is hard to say that a book about a murder is delightful, but See What I Have Done is a delightful, suspenseful, and satisfying read." --Steve Iwanski, Turnrow Book Co., Greenwood, Miss.
For Ages 4 to 8
I'm Sad by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781481476270). "It's important to let children know that life isn't so bad and things will get better, but it's equally important to make sure they know that it's okay not to be happy ALL of the time. I'm Sad is a funny and surprisingly sweet examination of those days when you wake up and just aren't at your most cheerful. Sometimes you're just sad and that's okay--it's even a little nice." --Amy Brabenec, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass.
For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780062665867). "Della's mama has schizophrenia. It's been under control for years, except for a bad time when Della was younger, but lots of pressures have been building up, and her mama's stopped taking her medicine. Della's daddy is trying to keep things together at home in addition to keeping their family farm going in the midst of a drought. Della wants her normal mom back, and she's trying everything she can think of to help, but it seems like she's just making things worse. A warm and sensitive story about families living with mental illness." --Nancy Banks, City Stacks Books and Coffee, Denver, Colo.
For Teen Readers
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows (HarperTeen, $17.99, 9780062652775). "A stunningly imagined version of pre-Victorian England, complete with charming ghosts, combines with timeless, laugh-out-loud humor in this retelling of Jane Eyre. This book is a breath of fresh air in the teen genre, with strong heroines, an irresistible yet complex plot, a light smattering of romance, and a gleeful--yet tasteful--abandonment of the fourth wall. I would recommend this book to anyone who is tired of predictable plot twists, cliffhangers, and endings and is looking for a rollicking adventure through a quasi-historically accurate rendition of Jane Eyre's England (with ghosts added, of course)." --Annika Pfister, Petunia's Place Bookstore, Fresno, Calif.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]