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15 Debut Novels We Can’t Wait to Read in 2020

Our Most Anticipated Debut Novels of 2020
[mk_fancy_title size=”28″ font_family=”none”]Coming soon: a huge to-be-read pile of amazing debut novels.[/mk_fancy_title][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h6″ font_family=”none”]By Jessica Dukes[/mk_fancy_title]

First novels are special. Authors pour their hearts into their debuts, creating a moment they’ve been working toward for years. In 2020, intricate plots, characters who strive to be better, and family dramas will keep the pages turning. Keep your eyes open for the authors below; you’re witnessing the start of a long and brilliant career.

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Claire was just a child when her older sister, Alison, was killed on a family vacation to the Caribbean island Saint X. Now grown, Claire has a chance encounter with Clive, one of the men accused of killing Alison, which propels her to find out more about a sister she never truly knew. Told from alternating viewpoints, Saint X is an expertly crafted tale of obsession, grief, race, and privilege that leaves an emotional mark. (February 18)

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Other People's Pets

Other People’s Pets by R.L. Maizes

Abandoned by her mother and raised by her burglar father, La La worked hard to leave a life of crime, get into veterinary school, and build a hopeful future. But when her father gets caught on the job, La La puts her dreams on hold to pay his legal fees and keep him out of prison. An animal empath, La La returns to robbery, although she targets homes with pets-in-need in order to justify her crimes. But ultimately, La La must decide if it’s worthwhile to continue holding on to her troubled past. (July 14)

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Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey

An unnamed woman at a crossroads recalls 20 years of important conversations. This is what women really talk about with each other — motherhood, relationships, independence, love, guilt — and how it informs the future. (January 7)

Little Gods by Meng Jin

Little Gods by Meng Jin

Liya is first-generation American, and visits China for the first time when she takes her mother’s ashes back home. Through her mother’s best friend and the father that she never knew, Liya finally understands her mother’s difficult life as a scientist, parent, and immigrant. (January 14)

Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis

Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis

Cloris is the only survivor of a plane crash in rural Montana. Debra, a park ranger struggling with addiction, leads the team to save her. As Debra tracks Cloris’ clues over weeks, the survival of both women grows unclear. (January 14)

Followers by Megan Angelo

Followers by Megan Angelo

Orla and Floss work to build an online following so massive, all of their dreams will come true. Decades later, the scheme has evolved: Fame is a government program. But when a celebrity escapes, the entire order of things is threatened. (January 14)

This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples

This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples

Marion, a gay Ojibwe man, faces typical small-town prejudices. When a spirit leads Marion to the grave of a murdered Ojibwe teenager, he investigates and discovers secrets others tried desperately to silence. (March 3)

These Ghosts Are Family

These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card

Thirty years ago, Abel faked his death and assumed the identity of his best friend, Stanford. Now an old man, Abel meets his new caretaker, Irene, who also happens to be the daughter he never knew — and Irene meets the father she thought was dead. (March 3)

Sharks in the Time of Saviors

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

In Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, 7-year-old Nainoa is saved by a group of sharks, an event which begins his life as a local hero. At first, Nainoa’s family enjoys good luck, but life’s realities soon stretch them to their limits. Can a second mystical encounter fix the pain of the past? (March 31)

Barker House by David Moloney

Barker House by David Moloney

In the prison system everyone has a code, even the corrections officers. This is the story of nine jailers whose lives are impacted by the system they’re paid to uphold. When one of them is killed, loyalties are put to the ultimate test. (April 7)

The House of Deep Water by Jeni McFarland

The House of Deep Water by Jeni McFarland

Linda and her mother Paula return to their small Michigan town around the same time as Beth, and they all find themselves living in Beth’s father’s house. What unfolds is a generation of painful secrets about class and race, and the power of starting over. (April 21)

The Resolutions by Brady Hammes

The Resolutions by Brady Hammes

Three siblings go home for the holidays expecting the usual family drama. What they didn’t expect was having to save the life of Samantha, the youngest, a talented ballerina and a hopeless drug addict. This is their emotional (and literal) journey to West Africa and back. (May 5)

All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad

All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad

Maggie finds five sealed letters, all addressed to different men, left by her recently deceased mother. To unlock their mysteries, Maggie delivers them herself and exposes the secret life of a complicated mother she realizes she hardly knew. (May 26)

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Jivan is a Muslim accused of terrorism in India. P.T. stirs up hate to get elected. Lovely dreams of fame, and is Jivan’s only alibi. As these three lives merge into one spectacle, the question becomes: How can each survive without destroying the other two? (June 2)

The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna

The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna

Lauren develops an unusually close friendship with Siri, one of her college writing students. She’s wary, but agrees to go home to Sweden with her over the break and ends up falling for Siri’s brother. Siri’s jealousy and Lauren’s vulnerability create the perfect storm: Revenge is swift, but the regret could last forever. (August 4)

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