We already know that 2020 will feature a presidential election, a summertime Olympic Games, a handful of Supreme Court fights, and quite potentially impeachment proceedings—so you're going to need some good books to maintain your sanity. These new literary fiction selections by women are shrewd, gripping, and unexpected in the best ways, touching on everything from race in America and #MeToo to a luxury yacht trip that turns into a nightmare and a Twitter feud between fast-food heirs. When you need a moment away from real life in 2020, dive deep into one of these new novels.
This breathtaking tale of race and privilege has already been picked up for onscreen adaptation by Lena Waithe, the screenwriter behind Queen & Slim. Though Such a Fun Age technically comes out in 2019, Reid's debut is sure to be one of the most talked-about books of 2020. It follows a well-intentioned white woman, Alix, and her black babysitter, Emira, and the events that unfold after a security guard decides that Emira has kidnapped Alix's toddler.
Out Dec. 31, 2019.
A commercial plane crashes into the ground, and one person survives: Edward, a young boy whose entire family is killed in the tragedy. He's taken in by his aunt and uncle, who are dealing with traumas of their own, and slowly, gradually, begins to repair the parts of himself he thought lost. But people all over the world are writing to Edward, begging him to fulfill the dreams of the passengers who, unlike Edward, did perish. A poignant novel about grief and hope.
Out January 6.
One of the most buzzed-about books set to be published in 2020, Long Bright River grips you from the outset with its Gothic language and doesn't let go. The title has many meanings, one being what the narrator terms "a long bright river of departed souls"—the people who have died from opioid overdoses in Philadelphia, where she lives. In this character-driven crime novel that's also a family drama, a policewoman named Mickey hunts desperately for her heroin-addicted sister.
Out January 7.
A six-figure bidding war was sparked by this novel, which Stephen King described as "an extraordinary piece of work." We've all heard the racist questions about why, exactly, immigrants from Latin America keep trying to cross the border into the States, even when so many fail—and this novel, which starts with a massacre that propels a young mother into action, answers it with candor and courage. "No doubt this will be THE book of 2020," wrote one reviewer.
Out January 21.
You've Got Mail for the Twitter age, Emma Lord's debut is a searingly lovely rom-com. Pepper is the teenage maverick behind her family's fast-food chain's hit Twitter account, and her classmate Jack spends his free time working in his family's local deli. That is, until Pepper's family's chain steals an iconic recipe from Jack's deli—and the duo's feud over Twitter goes viral. "I had a bad day yesterday and this book really turned everything around," says one Goodreads reviewer.
Out January 21.
Abi Daré's debut novel is told from the perspective of Adunni, a young Nigerian girl taught by her mother that education is the only way out, but sold by her father to a local man. She escapes, but finds that the only way to stay gone is to commit to serving a wealthy family. None of the indignities that befall her, however, can possibly stop Adunni from planning for a better life.
Out February 25.
You Are Not Alone is the third novel to be co-written by Hendricks and Pekkanen, a duo quickly becoming known for their sharp plot twists and cadre of fully formed female characters. The novel follows a young, isolated New Yorker who happens to witness a subway death—and later finds herself enmeshed in the warm, loving company of the dead girl's friends. She feels like she's finally thriving...until the dominoes begin to fall.
Out March 3.
One of the most timely books on this list, My Dark Vanessa follows a woman haunted by her intense past relationship with her then-tutor, who was 42 to her 15 when the relationship started. Kate Elizabeth Russell's debut novel asks critical questions about consent and sexual agency in this potent, multi-layered narrative.
Out March 10.
Rose Gold Watts grew up believing she was seriously ill, and her mother, Patty Watts, her diligent caregiver. Turns out that Patty, later diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, had been abusing her daughter for years. Now Patty is out of prison, and Rose Gold shocks everyone around her by agreeing to take her mother in. Rose Gold is older and wiser, after all—but she hasn't forgotten one moment of the pain and trauma inflicted on her during her childhood. This bone-chilling account of intimacy gone horribly wrong will stay with you.
Out March 17.
In Sahar Mustafah's novel, Palestinian American school principal Afaf must face the most American of tragedies: a school shooter, who ravages the Muslim school in Chicago that she presides over. As Afaf endures the horror of an alt-right maniac let loose with a gun in her own school, she revisits her childhood and the loss of her beloved older sister.
Out April 7.
Perhaps the most jarring genre of fiction is the kind that takes you deep into the gradual unraveling of a person's mind. Moshfegh does a masterful job with Death In Her Hands, which follows a protagonist who believes she's solving a murder. The book moves seamlessly from suspenseful to horrifying, retaining the reader's attention all the while.
Out April 21.
Between the Mediterranean views, five-star food, and endless supply of top-shelf champagne, Belle thinks she's struck gold aboard her friend's billionaire boyfriend's yacht trip. Spoiler: She's accidentally walked straight into—you guessed it—the lion's den. Quickly, everybody from Belle's self-obsessed friend to the billionaire to his bodyguards begin to unravel, and she realizes she's trapped. This delicious read has an unexpectedly brilliant ending, to boot.
Out May 19.
Isabel Allende fans have been waiting with bated breath for her latest novel, and A Long Petal of the Sea doesn't disappoint. To survive the outbreak of war in Spain in the late 1930s, Roser must marry the brother of the man she loved. The two head to Chile, where they build a new life. As World War II decimates Europe they wait, patiently, for their chance to head back to their homeland.
Out May 21
Jessica Goodman's thrilling debut is a modern-day Gossip Girl—but darker. It's set in a wealthy Long Island enclave, where protagonist Jill Newman attends a picture-perfect prep school. Three years ago, Jill's best friend Shaila was killed, supposedly by Shaila's boyfriend—but going into senior year, Jill starts to learn with mounting horror that Shaila's death might not have been as clear-cut a case as the community had hoped. "A juicy, fast-paced, addictive tale," according to Goodreads.
Out July 21.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.