The Plot Twist You Never Saw Coming: Sex. Lies. Double Lives. If You Like Secrets, Tension or Suspense, You’ll Love These 7 Books by Black Authors

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Javacia Harris Bowser – You’ll find as much substance as secrecy and suspense in these 2020 page-turners that explore family, faith, race, class, sexuality and more.   

sisters, aarp, booksThe Secret Lives of Church Ladies 

By Deesha Philyaw

Characters take a break from being good girls and take a chance at being women who go after what they want. The short stories explore sex and sexuality, but also address self-love, spirituality, southern customs and the meaning of family.

We meet a devout, traditional grandmother who’s slowly discovering that the worldly, troubled teen in her care might need more than prayer. There’s 40-year-old Caroletta, who wants more from her childhood best friend than the stolen moments they share every New Year’s Eve. In another story we follow a dutiful daughter who cares for her dying mother while regularly seeking comfort in the arms of a married man she meets at the hospice — in the back seat of her car in the building’s parking lot.

When No One Is Watching
By Alyssa Cole

This thriller has been described as Rear Window meets Get Out. Sydney Green loves her neighborhood, from the beautiful brownstones to beloved residents like Mr. Perkins. But when she moves back after a failed marriage, Sydney finds that everything is changing. There are cranes in the sky, scaffolds on buildings, new condos. And there are new white neighbors who are quick to call the cops on longtime Black residents.

Frustrated and fed up, Sydney decides to create a walking tour to help preserve Gifford Place’s past and present. She gets help from an unlikely and unwanted assistant — Theo, one of the new arrivals. But as the pair dive into research for the tour, they discover that the push to revitalize the community may not only be devious but also deadly.

Transcendent Kingdom
By Yaa Gyasi

In the follow-up to her best-selling debut novel Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi delivers an intimate portrait of a family grappling with grief. And this novel shows us a young woman struggling to reconcile science and faith while also seeking healing and meaning for her life.

Gifty, who grew up in Alabama as the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, is a doctoral candidate at Stanford University studying neuroscience. Early in the novel, Gifty tells us, “There used to be four of us, then three, then two. When my mother goes, whether by choice or not, there will be only one.” As the narrative leaps back and forth between past and present, we learn how Gifty lost her father and brother and why her mother has drifted into debilitating depression. As a child, Gifty kept a journal with letters to God. Now, she doesn’t pray at all. Yet a part of her still longs for her childhood faith as she turns to science to explain the suffering her family has faced.

Luster: A Novel
By Raven Leilani

This debut novel follows a young woman who’s trying to make sense of her life. Sharing a rodent-infested city apartment, Edie has deferred her dreams of being a painter for the corporate grind. Searching for an escape from reality, she begins an unorthodox sexual relationship with Eric, a white man who’s twice her age and in an open marriage. When Edie loses her job, she moves in with Eric, his wife and their 12-year-old daughter, and her world is turned upside down.

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir
By Natasha Trethewey

Do you know what it means to have a wound that never heals? That question comes to the author in a dream, posed by her late mother, who was shot and killed by Trethewey’s former stepfather when Tretheway was only 19 years old. This memoir explores her mother’s history in the segregated South and the author’s own girlhood as a biracial child in Mississippi as it leads up to the tragic crime that took place in Atlanta in 1985. Tackling topics of racism and domestic abuse, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Trethewey delivers a memoir that’s as gripping as a work of fiction and as lyrical as a poem.

A Spell for Trouble: An Enchanted Bay Mystery
By Esme Addison

Aleksandra Daniels hasn’t visited her cousins in Bellamy Bay, North Carolina, in over twenty years. For reasons never explained, her father has forbidden it since her mother’s tragic death. But after he dies, Alex accepts their invitation. She soon learns that this quaint seaside town is teeming with dark secrets, including a rumor that her relatives are magical healers descended from mermaids! When a local is poisoned and her Aunt Lidia is arrested, Alex becomes determined to uncover the truth. She learns about affairs, family feuds and more.

These Ghosts Are Family
By Maisy Card

If you missed the release this spring, add this novel to your TBR list. The first line will hook you: “Let’s say that you are a sixty-nine-year-old Jamaican man called Stanford, or Stan for short, who once faked your own death.”

Stanford  Solomon is actually Abel Paisley and he’s about to reveal his 30-year-old secret. This novel is Abel’s story and the story of the family, living and dead, whose worlds are rocked by his truth and lies. Thirty-seven-year-old Irene is a home health aide who’s about to discover the man she’s been assigned to care for is the father she thought was dead. Estelle, a 34-year-old heroin addict, and her 18-year-old daughter Caren are about to learn the man they call father and grandfather isn’t who they thought he was. You won’t soon forget Vera, “a dead woman, six years on the other side” who lived as Abel’s widow.

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