My Most Anticipated Popular Fiction Reads of 2021

My Most Anticipated Popular Fiction Reads of 2021

Guest post by Savannah Cordova at Reedsy

2021 is already shaping up to be a stellar year for fiction, and the coming months are packed with promise. In fact, there are so many new and upcoming releases fidgeting on my TBR that whittling it down to just five was no easy task. That said, the books on this list have really caught my eye — and not just because of their colorful covers.

1. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

This debut novel from Torrey Peters follows three New Yorkers whose lives coalesce around an unexpected pregnancy when Ames — who is detransitioning from life as a trans woman — accidentally gets his boss-turned-lover, Katrina, pregnant. Wary of traditional, nuclear-family fatherhood, he puts forth an intriguing proposal: they could raise the child with the help of his ex-girlfriend Reese, a trans woman gripped with longing for a baby.

In discussions about the book, trans women have spoken about deeply appreciating a character like Reese, who is grappling with the idea of motherhood and how she can achieve it. To bear children, Peters has said, is to be “unquestionably” a woman; having a child and finding motherhood is tangled with a sense of legitimacy.

What makes me so excited about this book (aside from the incredible premise and beautiful cover design) is that many cis readers will also be able to match their experiences against Reese’s, and contemplating questions of motherhood and gender through a trans lens could make this an incredibly eye-opening read. As its editor has said, this contemporary tragicomedy is really about the business of living, about identities, and families — even if this oze is slightly unconventional.

2. Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Milk Fed is the story of an anorexic Hollywood assistant’s love and obsession with an unabashedly fat, Orthodox Jewish, frozen yogurt heiress. The assistant, Rachel, also comes from a Jewish family, but prays primarily to the god of thinness, substituting calorie-restriction for Judaism — which she sees less as a religion and more as a dangerous siren song of calorie-packed treats.

When her therapist suggests she begin a 90-day detox from her weight-obsessed mom, Rachel ends up falling for Miriam — who experiences as much pleasure from food as she gives to Rachel through sex — and is forced to contemplate the fraught intersections among pleasure, appetite, and diet culture.

Broder has written before about the notion of a higher power being central to both religious and eating-disorder-prone mentalities. In Milk Fed, she wants readers to ask themselves: Whose voice is in my head? Who are my gods? As someone who is definitely guilty of living life by the rules of atheistic (and aesthetic) “higher powers” — beauty standards, validation, approval — I for one will be shimmying this title up my TBR.

I’m expecting a story that’s deeply human, darkly comic, and yet intensely sad, since Melissa Broder (born on “sad-girl Twitter”) is a bona fide authority on what it means to be young, funny, and depressed. Her first novel The Pisces (which has also made it onto my reading list) is about a woman who has sex with a merman (?!), and yet I’ve heard it described as painfully emotive — so I have high hopes that Milk Fed will tug on some heartstrings.

3. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I am such a fan of Daisy Jones And The Six, so when I saw that Taylor Jenkins Reid had written yet another glamorous story about a music legend and their familial fallouts, I was immediately on board. Malibu Rising comes out in early summer, and I can tell just by the cover that this is going to be the perfect literal beach read.

The story is set in Malibu, August 1983, and the action takes place over the course of one unforgettable night. It’s Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at fever pitch as everyone tries to steal a moment with the famous offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva. Among his progeny are Nina, the surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a renowned photographer, the other a championship surfer; and their adored baby sister, Kit.

Alcohol’s flowing, music’s playing — I’m picturing a Great Gatsby sort of soiree — and the loves, lies, secrets, and scandals that have shaped this family for generations come fizzing to the surface. By the time the party ends, the Riva family will have come crashing down and their Malibu mansion will have gone up in flames. I personally cannot wait to devour this escapist delight, and find out what really happened on the night of the Riva party.

4. The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

Another novel I’ll be devouring this summer is The Woman in the Purple Skirt. When Natsuko Imamura published this book in 2019, she took home Japan’s most prestigious literary award. Now Lucy North has translated Imamura’s unique voice, and I can’t wait to read this psychological thriller, which somehow sounds both whimsical and horrifying.

The story is about the otherwise nameless Woman in the Purple Skirt, who spends each afternoon sitting in the park, on the same bench, with the same cream bun, seeming not to notice the local children who make a game of trying to get her attention. Though she doesn’t know it, The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan watches her, always perched just out of sight.

Both single, aging, and short of money, the two women eventually become friends — they even end up working as housekeepers in the same hotel. But something is off: one woman is not who she seems, and the friendship slides towards a dangerous obsession.

I’m not the sort of reader who’s put off by an unappealing narrator, so I can definitely see myself enjoying the chillingly voyeuristic, taut, and unstable point of view of The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan. Immamura is also known for doing an excellent job of writing characters who are a little out of the ordinary, so I’m bracing myself for a strangely beguiling read.

5. No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

In No One is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood renders the experience of being Extremely Online: fragmentary and surreal, brimming with memes and texts, bite-sized serotonin bursts, and flashes of hot-take fury. But the story is actually about a woman — a viral celebrity who travels the world on the back of her tweets — who comes to realize through a family tragedy that the internet cannot possibly contain all the wonders and horrors of real life.

Out of interest, I took a quick look at some of Patricia Lockwood’s poetry (though poetry isn’t normally my thing), and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered someone with such a clear understanding of the world and her own experience of it, with the power to make others see it too. I think her novel is going to make me laugh, make me cry, frighten me, shred my brain, and scrape my guts out. And I couldn’t be more excited.

Special Feature: The London Monster by Donna Scott

The London Monster by Donna Scott

Publication Date: November 21, 2020
Paperback & eBook; 322 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

In 1788, exactly one hundred years before Jack the Ripper terrorizes the people of London, a sexual miscreant known as the London Monster roams the streets in search of his next victim…

Thomas Hayes, having lost his mother in a vicious street assault, becomes an underground pugilist on a mission to rid the streets of violent criminals. But his vigilante actions lead to him being mistaken for the most terrifying criminal of all.

Assistance arrives in the form of Sophie Carlisle, a young journalist with dreams of covering a big story, though she is forced to masquerade as a man to do it. Trapped in an engagement to a man she doesn’t love, Sophie yearns to break free to tell stories that matter about London’s darker side—gaming, prostitution, violence—and realizes Tom could be the one to help. Together, they come up with a plan.

Straddling the line between his need for vengeance and the need to hide his true identity as a politician’s son becomes increasingly difficult as Tom is pressured to win more fights. The more he wins, the more notoriety he receives, and the greater the chance his identity may be exposed—a revelation that could jeopardize his father’s political aspirations and destroy his family’s reputation.

Sophie is also in danger as hysteria spreads and the attacks increase in severity and frequency. No one knows who to trust, and no one is safe—Tom included, yet he refuses to end the hunt.

Little does he realize, the monster is also hunting him.

Available on Amazon

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Review: The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

I have only had the pleasure of reading one of Kristy Cambron’s novels but I have many of them on my TBR of course. I loved The Painted Castle which I read back in 2019 and I was really excited to see that this one was coming out! When it came up for review I was ecstatic and I loved the cover! Easy yes right here!

There are a lot of wonderful WWII novels that come out every year and I try and squeeze in as many as I can. Many are set in Paris or feature unlikely female heroines turned spies or resistance fighters and while the genre is flooded with similar tales and troupes, I simply adore them even if they are not terribly unique.

This book features a dress designer in occupied Paris that once worked for Coco Chanel and turns resistance fighter. But what really caught my eye about this one was that it was based on true events! I couldn’t wait to read this one for that reason. I expected this one to be well researched and well written given Cambron’s history with so many historical fiction novels under her belt.

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Review: Shipped by Angie Hockman

This is a book I bought all thanks to ‘the gram’. This book has been all over my Instagram and I finally caved and bought it. I thought the cover was cute and I was looking for a quick easy read that I would enjoy and escape for a little while and since I am dealing with a major case of wanderlust, I thought this book would tick all the boxes.

The cover is adorable and the enemies to lovers troupe is one of my favorites. The two characters, Henley and Graeme, are up for the same promotion and I thought that scenario might bring up some interesting competitiveness between the sexes. Not to mention this book is set mostly on a cruise ship in the Galapagos Islands!

YES PLEASE. I couldn’t wait to read this one the second it arrived. I was fully ready for the romance, escapism and the exotic location. I was not disappointed by any of it. Sure it wasn’t a perfect romance but it made me happy and kept me entertained and really that’s all that matters.

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Special Feature: Those Who Are Saved by Alexis Landau

I adore WWII era novels but the hard part is, there are so many books set during that time and honestly—all of them sound amazing! Every time I get pitched a new WWII era novel, I want to read them all! Some distinguish themselves more than others but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t review it because it wasn’t distinguished enough—-it simply means that my review calendar is full!

This book came across my desk and is out now. I wanted desperately to read it right away but I have so many other books to get through this month that I opted to share a little about this one instead and then read it later this summer. The thing that caught my eye about this one was that it was about a Russian Jewish family that immigrated to France.

Often WWII books feature Jewish families but from Poland or other Eastern European countries, but there are not really a lot of books with a Russian perspective. I thought the Russian perspective sounded intriguing and would offer a unique lens to view the war from. Add in the heart breaking choices a mother must make, has all the ingredients for a unique WWII novel! I am excited to read this one later this year but for now check out all the details and pick up a copy using my link below!

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