The best new books of April

Posted by
Sarah Shaffi
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April features a host of absorbing reads, perfect for curling up with during the unpredictable weather.

The long-reaching consequences of tragic events are explored in Erin Kelly's He Said/She Said, Elanor Dymott's Silver and Salt, and Jon McGregor's Reservoir 13.

Two books handle growing up very differently - Daisy Buchanan's non-fiction How to be a Grown Up is the journalist's first book, while Jami Attenberg's novel All Grown Up is funny and poignant by turns.

Meg Howrey's The Wanderers takes us to space (sort of), while The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas' is firmly rooted in reality, taking inspiration from the Black Lives Matter movement to tell a story from a little-heard perspective.

For something lighter, there is Ayisha Malik's The Other Half of Happiness, while Kanishk Tharoor's short story collection Swimmer Among the Stars and The Things I Would Tell You, a collection of writing by British Muslim women, are perfect if you're looking for something to dip into.

Happy reading.

  • He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

    Fifteen years ago, after a total eclipse, Laura and Kit witnessed a horrifying crime. Their testimony in the ensuing trial changed their lives and that of the victim and her attacker forever. Now, with another eclipse approaching, Laura and Kit are forced to face secrets that will put their lives in danger. I loved the way He Said/She Said was plotted around the stages of a total eclipse, and Kelly's approach to the central crime, the people involved and the consequences is thought-provoking and sensitively handled.

    Holder & Stoughton, £16.99

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

    Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas' novel centres on 16-year-old Starr, who lives in two worlds - the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised, and the posh high school she attends in the suburbs. The balance between the two worlds is shattered when Starr becomes the only witness to the fatal shooting, by a policeman, of her unarmed friend Khalil. A nuanced, brave, affecting look at prejudice and social justice.

    Walker Books, £7.99

  • How to be a Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan

    Journalist Daisy Buchanan's writing always brings a smile to my face and has me nodding along, and her first book is no different. How to be a Grown Up is a collection of life advice covering everything from how to love your body to how to relax to how to be social. Buchanan acknowledges early on that she's probably not going to tell you much you don't already know, but this is a fun, feisty book and reading Buchanan is like listening to that friend we all have who gives stellar life advice.

    Headline, £14.99

  • Swimmer Among the Stars by Kanishk Tharoor

    This collection of surreal, magical and haunting short stories explores identity, belonging, language, exploitation, climate change  and more. My personal favourites include A United Nations in Space, about the UN operating from a luxury space liner following the brutal effects of global warming, a story I thought about for days after reading. I also loved Portrait with Coal Fire, a simple yet uncomfortable read which followed a conversation between a photographer and his subject. Swimmer Among the Stars is an enchanting exquisite read.

    Picador, £12.99

  • The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik

    This is the sequel to Ayisha Malik's funny and witty debut novel Sofia Khan is Not Obliged. Now married to her neighbour Conall, who converted to Islam, Sofia thinks she's found happiness and peace. But her mother is still interfering (and hilarious), her friends are still trying to sort their lives out, and Conall is still a complete mystery. Malik is great at making you laugh one minute and then breaking your heart the next, and this is a relatable story for anyone who has ever struggled to find their way in the world and who knows that there's life on the other side of happily ever after.

    Bonnier Zaffre, £7.99

  • Silver and Salt by Elanor Dymott

    Silver and Salt opens in 2003 in Greece, as Ruthie watches an English family in a neighbouring villa. And then we go into a dual narrative, delving into the life of celebrated photographer Max Hollingbourne - Vinny and Ruthie's father - and the chain of events that lead to 2003.

    Jonathan Cape, £14.99

  • All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

    Smart, funny and a little unsettling at times, Jami Attenberg's All Grown Up is the kind of New York novel you want in your life. Andrea - 39, single, dissatisfied with his job - tries to navigate relationships with family (including a mother now living her own life and a brother and sister-in-law occupied with their own child's needs) and friends, and a number of significant, or not so significant, others. Skipping back and forth, and presented almost like a series of vignettes, All Grown Up lovingly renders a flawed, prickly and relatable woman.

    Serpent's Tail, £12.99

  • The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write edited by Sabrina Mahfouz

    Like last year's successful essay collection The Good Immigrant, The Things I Would Tell You gives a platform to people who don't find it easy to get published. Ranging from poetry to essays to short stories to a play, this collection showcases the variety of work British Muslim women are producing, touching on identity, belonging, religion, mental health, memory, love and more. My personal favourites include short stories Cutting Someone's Heart Out With a Spoon and Noor, by Chimene Suleyman and Kamila Shamsie respectively, and Imtiaz Dharker's poem The Right Word.

    Saqi Books, £12.99

  • The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

    There is a real trend for stories about space at the moment across books and film, but Meg Howrey's The Wanderers does something a little different in the genre. Astronauts Helen, Yoshi and Sergei are training for a mission that will see them become the first humans to go to Mars. But that's four years away, and first they have to spend 17 months in Eidolon, a training mission that simulates their journey. The trio must navigate life in a spaceship, while their families navigate life on Earth. The Wanderers is an observant novel about the line between pretend and reality, and the connections humans forge.

    Scribner, £14.99

  • Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

    A teenage girl on holiday with her family goes missing on New Year's Eve. The residents of the village join the search for her, but while journalists and police descend on their community, life still has to go on. Reservoir 13 takes place over 13 years, but never feels rushed, with Jon McGregor creating a real sense of place and exploring a community that can never forget a tragedy that befell strangers.

    4th Estate, £14.99


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Sarah Shaffi

Sarah Shaffi is a freelance journalist and editor. She reads more books a week than is healthy, and balances this out with copious amounts of TV. She writes regularly about popular culture, particularly how it reflects and represents society.