Jane Recommends Book Picks for March 2024

Jane Recommends Book Picks for March 2024

Bedside Reading 
By Jane Ubell-Meyer, Founder, Bedside Reading

Read More at BedsideReading.com/JaneRecommends


Listen for the Lie by Amy Tintera  

What if you thought you murdered your best friend? And if everyone else thought so too? And what if the truth doesn’t matter? After Lucy is found wandering the streets, covered in her best friend Savvy’s blood, everyone thinks she is a murderer. Lucy and Savvy were the golden girls of their small Texas town: pretty, smart, and enviable. Lucy married a dream guy with a big ring and an even bigger new home. Savvy was the social butterfly loved by all, and if you believe the rumors, especially popular with the men in town. It’s been years since that horrible night, a night Lucy can’t remember anything about, and she has since moved to LA and started a new life. But now the phenomenally huge hit true crime podcast “Listen for the Lie,” and its too-good looking host Ben Owens, have decided to investigate Savvy’s murder for the show’s second season. Lucy is forced to return to the place she vowed never to set foot in again to solve her friend’s murder, even if she is the one that did it.

Out of the Darkness by David A. Jacinto 

Out of the Darkness is based on the true story of a nineteenth-century child coal miner rising out of the ashes of poverty and tragedy to change the world. It’s the story of greed, love, sacrifice, faith, and the courage to push aside fear and jump into the refiner’s fire where the finest qualities of character are forged. In 1837, seven-year-old Thomas Wright followed in his family’s footsteps into one of England’s most dangerous coal mines. He struggled with childhood fears, working twelve-hour days, six days a week in the darkness 500-feet below ground. That was until disaster struck in one of England’s most horrific accidents that changes the direction of his life and the course of history. This is the fast-moving story of a young boy overcoming the iron-fisted rule of the massively wealthy lord of the land, who not only owned much of South Yorkshire’s coal mines and the villages in which the miners lived, but the mortgage on their lives. With the help of his family, he confronts the tyrannical system of industrial slavery, His Lordship’s brutal psychopathic enforcer, and a society that fostered the oppression of the working class. From his desperate beginnings, we follow Tom on a path to a brilliant career, his love affair with a strong-willed woman, and his courageous fight to help change the course of industrial slavery in England. It’s a masterfully told story of the great sweep of human desire for freedom and liberty; not just for himself, but for his children and his children’s children. Like many immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century, Thomas Wright was drawn to what Abraham Lincoln called, “the last best hope on earth,” and has left a vast American legacy, including his seven-year-old great, great, great, great grandson Cole, pictured on the front cover of this book.

Honey by Isabel Banta 

A coming-of-age story that follows the meteoric rise of singer Amber Young as she navigates fame in the late-90s and early-2000s era of pop music superstardom.It is 1997, and Amber Young has received a life-changing call. It’s a chance thousands of girls would die for: the opportunity to join girl group Cloud9 in Los Angeles and escape her small town. She quickly finds herself in the orbits of fellow rising stars Gwen Morris, a driven singer-dancer, and Wes Kingston, a member of the biggest boy band in the world, ETA. Surrounded by people who claim to love her but only wish to exploit her, Amber’s rich interior life is frequently reduced. Before she even knows who she is, the men surrounding her have decided what she’s capable of. Driven by a desire for recognition and success, for love and sex, for agency and connection, Amber comes of age at a time when the kaleidoscope of public opinion can distort everything and one mistake can shatter a career. With the captivating style of Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler and the raw honesty of I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy, Isabel Banta’s debut novel, Honey, redefines the narratives of some of the most famous pop icons of the ’90s and 2000s. It reimagines the superstars we idolized and hated, oversexualized and underestimated, and gives them the fresh, multifaceted story they deserve.

Daughter of a Promise by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg 

Days after graduating from college, Betsabé Ruiz begins her first job on Wall Street, where she plans to save enough money to eventually pursue her dreams of becoming a theatre actress. What she didn’t anticipate was that this job would allow her barely enough free time to sleep or hang out with friends, let alone take acting classes. She didn’t apprehend the magnitude of the wealth that would be swirling about her, either, or how the long hours and close quarters would infuse her professional relationships with intimacy. Still, she does her best to navigate this uncharted territory at work, where she makes an unlikely best friend and develops an unexpected attraction to her boss. Told in the retrospective as a letter to her unborn son, Daughter of a Promise is a coming-of-age tale in which a naïve Betsabé assumed leaving her past behind was the prerequisite for succeeding as an adult. The wisdom she ultimately passes on to her child, however, is steeped in the very traditions within which her grandmother raised her back in Miami.

Incurable Optimist by Jennifer Cramer-Miller

At twenty-two, Jennifer Cramer-Miller was thrilled with her new job, charming boyfriend, and Seattle apartment. Then she received a devastating autoimmune diagnosis—and suddenly, rather than planning for a bright future, she found herself soaking a hospital pillow with tears and grappling with words like “progressive” and “incurable.” That day, Cramer-Miller unwillingly crossed over from wellness to chronic illness—from thriving to kidney failure. Her chances of survival hinged upon on the expertise of doctors, the generosity of strangers, and the benevolence of loved ones. But what kind of life would that be? Spanning two-plus decades, this family love story explores loss and acceptance, moving forward with uncertainty, and forging a path to joy. Four kidney transplants later, Cramer-Miller is here to shine a bright light on people helping people in difficult times with a story that will make you want to hug the humans you love. Because sometimes it’s the sorrows that threaten to pull us apart that ultimately unite us in hope.​

Max’s War by Libby Fischer Hellmann 

As the Nazis sweep across Europe, Jewish teen Max and his parents flee persecution in Germany for Holland, where Max finds true friends and a life-altering romance. But when Hitler invades in 1940, Max must escape to Chicago, leaving his parents and friends behind. When he learns of his parents’ deportation and murder, Max immediately enlists in the US Army. After basic training he is sent to Camp Ritchie, Maryland, where he is trained in interrogation and counterintelligence. Deployed to the OSS as well, Max carries out dangerous missions in occupied countries. He also interrogates scores of German POWs, especially after D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, where, despite life-threatening conditions, he elicits critical information about German troop movements. Post-war, he works for the Americans in the German denazification program, bringing him back to his Bavarian childhood home of Regensburg. Though the city avoided large-scale destruction, the Jewish community has been decimated. Max roams familiar yet strange streets, replaying memories of lives lost to unspeakable tragedy. While there, however, he reunites with someone from his past, who, like him, sought refuge abroad. Can they rebuild their lives… together? This epic story about a Ritchie Boy is Libby Hellmann’s tribute to her late father-in-law who was active with the OSS and interrogated dozens of German POWs.​

The Twenty by Marianne C. Bohr

Marianne Bohr and her husband, about to turn sixty, are restless for adventure. They decide on an extended, desolate trek across the French island of Corsica—the GR20, Europe’s toughest long-distance footpath—to challenge what it means to grow old. Part travelogue, part buddy story, part memoir, The Twenty is a journey across a rugged island of stunning beauty little known outside Europe. From a chubby, non-athletic child, Bohr grew into a fit, athletic person with an “I’ll show them” attitude. But hiking The Twenty forces her to transform a lifetime of hard-won achievements into acceptance of her body and its limitations. The difficult journey across a remote island provides the crucible for exploring what it means to be an aging woman in a youth-focused culture, a physically fit person whose limitations are getting the best of her, and the partner of a husband who is growing old with her. More than a hiking tale, The Twenty is a moving story infused with humor about hiking, aging, accepting life’s finite journey, and the intimacy of a long-term marriage—set against the breathtaking beauty of Corsica’s rugged countryside.

Night Buddies by Sands Hetherington 

A tale to stimulate the imagination of every child, Night Buddies is a delightfully eccentric story full of antics, excitement, and adventure. The two main characters are young John Blennerhassit who doesn’t want to go to bed yet, and Crosley, a zany red crocodile who shows up to rescue him. They sneak out of John’s house by becoming temporarily invisible and then head for the subway station. The Night Buddies “Program” for tonight is to find out why the world’s only Pineapple Cheesecake Factory has stopped shipping pineapple cheesecakes. (John and Crosley are goofy about pineapple cheesecakes, especially Crosley.) On the way to the subway they get better acquainted, and John finds out the wacky reason Crosley is red, and also what happens if he gets any water on him. The unlikely buddies bump into many odd and fascinating characters as they proceed on their mission. Some of the characters aren’t nice, and things get very scary. Author Sands Hetherington has created a singular and unforgettable children’s tale in Night Buddies, a story readers won’t want to miss.

Elisa Fershtadt
Elisa Fershtadt