Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
If you read this as an adolescent, it’s time to read Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret again. Awkward and inelegant as they may be, sixth-grader Margaret’s questions and quests (to grow bigger breasts, for example, while also seeking out her preferred religion) lead her to greater understanding and self-appreciation—and they’ll most certainly make you cringe as you recall your own experiences and desires to throw off the chains of childhood while budding into young adulthood.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett’s lyrical words are as captivating as is the music she selects to provide the melodic narrative in her romantic novel Bel Canto. An honest love story, the novel’s characters find themselves in tumult amid a crime and chaotic crisis. The music, as much a character as the humans, provides a backdrop to the drama that is sure to leave every reader on the edge of their seats.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s Beloved stares down the horrors of slavery and transforms a narrative you think you’ve read a hundred times into a towering story of pain, agony, triumph, and freedom. The story of Sethe, the novel’s protagonist, is gut-wrenchingly honest and simultaneously beautiful and hideous. She wears the worries of past decisions and strives longingly toward freedom, the arch for which her entire life story bends. The suspense wears heavy on the reader, and the choices you must weigh alongside Sethe are haunting.