For this month’s selection, Sugar Run by Mesha Maren, we asked our book club members to share their favorite books about second chances or new starts. They said this:
Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore
To earn a place in the “cosmic soul,” a man named Milo only has five chances left. Milo has already lived 9,995 lives. That’s not what he really wants. He wants to spend more time with the love of his many lives, Death herself.
“Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues is a book I recently read and really liked. It had a “new beginnings” theme, but there were about 10,000 “second chances” instead of just one “second chance.” Andy Barnes
The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan
They have kept secrets from each other for most of their lives. Pearl Brandt doesn’t know that her mother, Winnie Louie, has multiple sclerosis, and Pearl doesn’t know anything about Winnie’s painful past in China during World War II. They have to open up to each other and become closer as a result. Pearl’s aunt Helen gives them both a choice: tell the truth, or she will.
“A great book! They tell the truth about how she was able to flee China and start over in America.” —Susan
Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard
At least 100 of Atlanta’s rich and famous died when a chartered Boeing 707 they were on crashed on its way back from Europe, killing everyone on board and changing their city forever. A fictional story called Visible Empire imagines what would happen after a real disaster, which was at the time the worst single-aircraft disaster. People who survived try to move on with their lives.
“Earlier this month, I read Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard. I thought it was great! When the characters are forced into new beginnings or unfamiliar territory, they give each other the chance to start over and try again. This made for a very complex and interesting story.” Caroline Brooks: —
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Both Violet and Amber are being held back in their own ways. Violet is being held back by a secret from her past, and Amber is being held back by the walls of the juvenile detention center where she is. The ghost of Orianna is what ties them together. She is the only person who knows the truth about Amber and Violet, and she has the key to their freedom.
“Nova Ren Suma wrote a book called The Walls Around Us that I read and really liked. In this book, there are a lot of girls who have regrets and want to start over. One girl does get that chance at the end of the story. It’s beautiful and worth reading.” Amy Hill:
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are true work nemeses. They don’t just dislike each other; they hate each other. But when they’re competing for the same job, their competitive and passive-aggressive games become more like sexual tension when they’re both competing for the same job.
“It’s my favorite book about second chances, and it’s written by Sally Thorne. This book is the best one I’ve ever read. It means so much to me. Lucy, the main character, thinks the other MC is a stoic, condescending man when he isn’t. She has the chance to see for herself and decide for herself!” The name of this person is Nishta Reddy:
My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame
“I just finished reading My Brother’s Husband. It’s about Yaichi, whose twin dies, and it’s very sad. He is Mike, who is from Canada. He has come down to see the place where his husband grew up, and the twin’s husband is very excited. When Kana was a little girl, her father, Yaichi, fell in love with this “foreigner” uncle of his.
“To start, Kana is shown the idea of two men marrying, which she finds interesting, but also completely normal. She’s surprised to learn that she is related to a “foreigner.” It also talks about Yaichi trying to understand his brother through his wife and accepting his homosexuality after he died.
“I really, really liked the book. Just couldn’t stop reading it!” Puthillam: Arathy Puthillam
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
First, Ursula Todd is born in 1910. She dies before she can even take her first breath, so she doesn’t live long. As soon as the sun goes down on that night, he is born again. After that, he is born a lot more often.
“Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is a great book about getting a second chance at life. Each new chapter gives the character a chance to start over again in their life. If you haven’t, read it now.” The person who spoke to me was Barbara Monaghan.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
After her mother, the brilliant but flawed poet, is sent to prison for murder, Astrid is sent on a journey through the Los Angeles foster home system. Each stop is a place of pain, discovery, and growth, and Astrid learns a lot about herself.
“All about grief, abuse, and neglect. For years, Astrid was in foster care, and every time she moved, she got a new start, a new chance. Astrid’s narcissistic mother had been in prison. Like a sponge, Astrid took in the personality and lifestyle of each very different home. She was hungry for the attention and love she never had the chance to know. Every three or four years, I read this book. You can always find new things when you read it again.” Jess Hoffman: I’m Jess Hoffman.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
This book is about Santiago’s journey across the Egyptian desert in search of the thing that will make him happy.
Such a powerful message of change that goes far beyond your physical circumstances and reaches down into your soul is what this book is all about. Katie O’Leary:
The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
Enchanted is about a man who is on death row in prison. He sees his dark surroundings as a place full of magic, like the woman hired to help men get out of prison and the warden who takes them to their deaths.
“It’s not your typical “second chance” story. It’s about a woman who works with death row inmates to try to get them out of death row, not your typical “second chance.” It’s a great book!” —Danielle Proulx-Gaudet says that.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
They’ve been in love since they were young, but Fermina eventually married a wealthy doctor. Florentino is heartbroken, but he goes on with his work and relationships and always hopes for the reunion he thinks will bring Fermina back into his life.
“It’s a good book. Because it has such a great story, I have read it many times.” The person who wrote this is called Sondra Miller.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
In war-torn Afghanistan, a rich boy is taken care of by his father’s servant after his father dies. People who don’t know each other very well form an unlikely friendship. They also betray each other and give up things for each other.
“It’s one of my favorite books, and it can be said that it’s about a second chance to make things right, and about starting over in a new country for its main characters,” says the author. Miriam Garcia said that.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
1969: Kya Clark, known as “Marsh Girl” because she lives in the woods, is the main suspect when the body of a young man is found. She isn’t what everyone thinks she is.
“Kya has to start over not once, not twice, but three times when she is a child, a teenager, and a young woman. As a result of these events, Kya must start over not once, not twice, but three times. These people have to shift gears quite a lot.” —Carole Knoles says that.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Yanagihara’s book is about a friendship that lasts for years. Four college friends move from Massachusetts to New York, and their relationships change and grow as they go through heartbreak, ambition, addiction, and professional success. But Jude, one of the group’s lawyers, has a troubled childhood that keeps coming up.
“This is a great book about second chances. Hanya Yanagihara wrote A Little Life, and it is my favorite book about second chances. It’s great, and everyone with a heart should read it. But I’ll tell you, it will break your heart.” —Sara Komo says this.
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Lilian Girvan has been a single mother since her husband died in a car accident three years ago. She has settled into what she calls a “steady” routine, and her kids are happy with it. Because of her boss, she doesn’t know how much it will change her life.
“It’s a great book about gardening and a widow’s second chance at love,” says the author. —Carlee Clark says that.
No One Tells You This by Glynnis MacNicol
Glynnis MacNicol’s memoir is about her 40th year, when she starts living a mostly unplanned life. There are many ways that single, middle-aged women live when they are not cast as the cautionary tale, the wacky aunt, or the wacky spinster.
“It’s about coming to terms with being single and taking a different path as a woman, and being okay with that!” Kristin Shaak