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Spring Awakening: The Best Books to Read in April

Our pick of new fiction includes dystopia, romance and suspense from authors like Kate Morton, Elizabeth Hay and Louise Candlish / BY Nathalie Atkinson / March 31st, 2023

April is the cruelest month, because it doesn’t possess nearly enough days to read all the sensational new spring arrivals. You’ll be wishing for April showers so you can get to all these new reads from favourites like Curtis Sittenfeld, Louise Candlish and Giller Prize winner Elizabeth Hay, as well as a slew of buzzy debuts, like the fizzy romance by Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1Homecoming by Kate Morton

When a journalist returns to Australia after living abroad to care for the ailing grandmother who raised her, her nan’s semi-conscious chatter hints at a tangle of family drama (and lies) surrounding the unsolved death of a young family in 1959. Born and raised in Australia, the London-based No. 1 internationally bestselling (in 36 languages!) author brings her lush, descriptive prose to this crime drama that flows between rural mid-century southern Australia and near-present-day Sydney to probe complex parent relationships and identity. (April 4)

2Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

When a successful writer on an SNL-like live comedy show watches her nerdy male colleague pair off with one of their glamorous guest hosts, she figures the same would never happen to her. Has fate ever been so tempted? Enter a charming pop star, in a wry riff on opposites attracting, from the bestselling Minneapolis-based writer of Prep, American Wife and Rodham, a genius alternate-history of Hillary Clinton. Sittenfeld’s novel is part meticulous immersion into the world of late-night comedy, part pandemic novel and all grown-up rom-com. (April 4) 

3Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling

The entwined fates and points of view of a professor, a young woman and a mysterious group of female climate researchers collide in the near-future northern Canadian settlement in this novel tailor-made for fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (or those mourning that The Last of Us is over for the season). In her dystopian debut, Min Sterling, a Canadian writer based in Cambridge, Mass., who teaches literature at Berklee College of Music, explores how the intersection of gender, class and migration will impact who survives as the climate crisis progresses. (April 4)

4This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

The co-founder of 1980s pop-rock band The Bangles makes her debut with this unabashedly Anglophile rom-com about a washed-up pop star looking for a new lease on life (and love) while on a working vacation in England. (Think: Notting Hill set to a catchy beat.) With a curated reading playlist and chapter titles named for the songs that inspired them, it’s a sexy and effervescent romance that showcases Hoffs’ deep love and knowledge of music and literature, and an engaging charmer from the songwriter of the band’s forever classic “Eternal Flame.” Read our interview with Hoffs about starting a new career as an author at 64. (April 4)

5The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters

The aftermath of a Mi’kmaw child’s tragic 1962 disappearance from a blueberry field in Maine reverberate for 50 years in this debut novel about the endurance of love across decades and the search for truth. Peters is a writer of Mi’kmaw and settler ancestry based in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, and the winner of the 2021 Indigenous Voices Award for Unpublished Prose. (April 4)

6The Society of Shame by Jane Roper

When a politician’s cliché affair with a younger staffer gets exposed, it’s the viral photo of his wife’s feminine-hygiene malfunction (the same kind of leak experienced by Charlotte in the first season of And Just Like That…) that makes the headlines instead. In this send up of social media fame, internet shaming and hashtag activism, protagonist Kathleen’s newfound notoriety inspires the #YesWeBleed feminist movement. It’s a heartwarming and often very funny mother-daughter story from the host of A Mighty Blaze’s The Zeitgeist webcast about deciding what one’s legacy will be. (April 4)

7Snow Road Stationby Elizabeth Hay

When aging stage actress Lulu, 62, finds herself botching performances, she heads to her old friend Nan’s sugar shack in the woods to nurse her bruised pride. To complicate things, an old flame also attends the wedding of Nan’s son. With its probing story of lifelong friendships, ambition and mediocrity, the new novel from the Giller Prize winner of Late Nights on Air reminds me of Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings. (April 11)

8Rose Addams by Margie Taylor

As her husband takes early retirement to work on his passion project, Rose’s life gets more complicated when, among other things, one of their adult children moves home. Taylor, a former CBC radio producer and host now based in Guelph, Ont., takes us into the life and thoughts of a middle-class woman navigating her 60s and her third act. It’s being compared to Carol Shields and Bonnie Burnard (and comes with an endorsement from Pamela Wallin), but to me it shares the same spirit as Constance Beresford-Howe’s landmark 1973 novel The Book of Eve; readers may find themselves nodding in recognition at almost every page. (April 15)

9The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish

The bestselling British author has always been great, but The Other Passenger catapulted her to the top tier of psychological suspense writers in 2020; everyone seemed to be reading it. Her latest is an excavation of a seemingly laid-back suburban husband’s past and sounds just as gripping. No wonder fellow thriller writer Ruth Ware calls her “the Queen of the sucker-punch twist.” (April 18)

10he Double Life of Benson Yu by Kevin Chong

At the suggestion of his therapist, graphic novelist Benny attempts to write an autobiography (the double life in the title) that will help him process the long-standing effects of trauma from his 1980s childhood: school bullying, abuse, depression after the death of his beloved grandmother. Thanks to a deft metafictional take, the story by the Hong Kong-born, Vancouver-based writer (and associate professor of creative writing at the University of British Columbia) takes on a life of its own, with themes of Asian Canadian representation, masculinity and assimilation. (April 18)

11Symphony of Secrets by Brendan Slocumb

Slocumb’s debut, The Violin Conspiracy, was one of the books of 2022: a bestselling mystery about a Black musician’s quest to recover his stolen violin that took readers into the exciting, ego-driven world of classical music (like the movie Tàr). The North Carolina-raised author — a violinist, performer and music teacher — is back with another evocative page turner. Could a neurodiverse Black women from the jazz age be the true creator of works attributed to one of America’s most celebrated composers? The story, told through dual timelines, interrogates ideas around race, greed, fame and legacy. (April 18)

12The Eden Test by Adam Sternbergh

In the fourth novel from the Canadian journalist (an editor at the New York Times), Daisy takes her husband on a secretive couples retreat in upstate New York that touts a unique “seven days, seven questions” programme to save unhappy marriages. He’s a cheater, but she’s also got secrets of her own. Things quickly get claustrophobic: hostile locals view the rural interlopers as “citiots” and, despite the idyllic nature setting, it has a chilling locked-room component. Imagine if Kellerman’s lodge from Dirty Dancing was the locale of a character-driven domestic thriller, and Fleishman Is in Trouble was happening in the cabin next door. (April 25)

13Burr by Brooke Lockyer

Canadian authors Rosemary Sullivan and Catherine Bush are praising this Toronto author’s debut novel, a tender 1990s-set gothic (named for the southern Ontario town where it takes place) about not wanting to let go of the dead. Their endorsement is enough that I’ll be picking up this story of 13-year-old Jane, whose father recently died and whose mother, Meredith, has withdrawn into her memories. Jane strikes up a friendship with the elderly local recluse Ernest, also bereaved, and the chapters alternate all three points of view as they navigate grief and loss. (April 29)


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