The More I Owe You by Michael Sledge (Counterpoint Press)
When U.S. poet Elizabeth Bishop took off for South America in the early 1950s to flee her alcoholic past, she was a delicate bird released into a hothouse of tangled vines and the love affair that would save her life. In this fictional portrayal of that relationship, Bishop restores her soul under the devoted care of Brazilian aristocrat Lota de Macedo Soares. At a time when lesbian unions stayed underground, Sledge writes, their love “crossed a new latitude.”
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (Doubleday)
Talk about an eating disorder. On her ninth birthday, Bender’s heroine consumes a forkful of homemade cake and tastes her mother’s misery. “Get out my mouth!” Rose Edelstein shouts, but it’s no use: She’s able to intuit the emotions behind every dish. In a tight-lipped family, this is an arduous recipe. Bender cleverly interprets how adolescents find their way to adulthood as Rose learns to cope with her gift and the food on her plate.
The House on Salt Hay Road by Carin Clevidence (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
In 1937 three generations reside under one roof in a small seaside town. But when a stranger arrives, 19-year-old Nancy decides he will be her ticket out of this insular world. Or will he? In this deceptively simple first novel, family cohesion holds its members back as well as together. “It was only after something broke into its individual parts,” Nancy’s brother observes, “that you saw how miraculous the whole had been, how fragile.”
Originally published in the June 2010 issue of More.