[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Lisa Duffy to the site today. She’s talking about books that transport you to another place!]
One of my favorite things to create as a novelist is community. There’s nothing more satisfying than putting characters together in one place and seeing what happens. Whether it’s a small fishing village or an urban town or an isolated island, fictional communities have one thing in common—they let us escape our own lives. They invite us into a new reality. A new world. Sometimes, this new world captures us fully, so thoroughly, we don’t want to leave, not even when the story is over, the last page turned, and the cover closed. Here are some novels with memorable communities; ones that lingered in my mind long after I finished reading.
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
This stunning, lyrical novel opens with 16-year-old Melody’s coming of age party in the Brooklyn home of her grandparents. Weaving back and forth through time, each chapter providing a different point of view, we’re at once a part of this family, sharing their regrets, hope and heartbreak. This multigenerational story builds a community of voices you won’t soon forget
The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips
Set in an Alabama coal mining town, this novel made this New England girl want to pack a suitcase and hop on a plane to spend some time with the Moore family and the residents of Carbon Hill. Publishers Weekly remarked that Phillips has “a tenderhearted eye for detail; you can hear the pecans and hickory nuts falling from the trees and feel the stillness of a hot summer night.” Take a chance on this Depression-era gem. You won’t be sorry.
Northline by Willy Vlautin
If you’re looking for an uplifting, breezy tale with a fairytale ending, this isn’t your book. If you want a work of fiction filled with desperation, failed dreams and impossible to forget characters, then pick up this sad, yet strangely hopeful book. The novel centers around Allison Johnson and her attempt to make a new life after leaving an abusive relationship. When she lands in Reno and takes a job at a diner, the cast of characters she collects as she reshapes her life will stay with you for years to come. Possibly even forever.
Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
Appearing more than once on lists of banned books, this National Book Award finalist chronicles Ruth Anne “Bone” Boatwright’s youth growing up in the rural south as a poor, illegitimate child who suffers unimaginable abuse at the hands of her stepfather. Class, gender, sexuality and race are explored through the lens of a young girl. Barbara Kingsolver said the novel will “resonate within you like a gospel choir”, and she’s right—you’ll feel every word of this coming of age masterpiece.
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About the Author:
Lisa Duffy is the author of The Salt House, named by Real Simple as a Best Book of the Month upon its June release and one of Bustle’s 17 Best Debut Novels by Women in 2017, and This is Home, a favorite book club pick. Lisa received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts. Her writing can be found in numerous publications, including Writer’s Digest. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and three children. My Kind of People is her third novel.
My Kind of People by Lisa Duffy, out today!
On Ichabod Island, a jagged strip of land thirteen miles off the coast of Massachusetts, ten-year-old Sky becomes an orphan for the second time after a tragic accident claims the lives of her adoptive parents.
Grieving the death of his best friends, Leo’s life is turned upside down when he finds himself the guardian of young Sky. Back on the island and struggling to balance his new responsibilities and his marriage to his husband, Leo is supported by a powerful community of neighbors, many of them harboring secrets of their own.
Maggie, who helps with Sky’s childcare, has hit a breaking point with her police chief husband, who becomes embroiled in a local scandal. Her best friend Agnes, the island busybody, invites Sky’s estranged grandmother to stay for the summer, straining already precarious relationships. Their neighbor Joe struggles with whether to tell all was not well in Sky’s house in the months leading up to the accident. And among them all is a mysterious woman, drawn to Ichabod to fulfill a dying wish.