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Come and Read at the Contemporary Fiction Cafe!

by | Jun 5, 2024 | Adult, Fiction, Matchmakers, Mystery, Romance

I enjoy taking in contemporary fiction because it’s interesting to see how a writer views and portrays the world we live in today. It’s particularly nice to experience the many subgenres that fall under contemporary fiction. It’s like reading a menu from the Contemporary Fiction Cafe and choosing a three-course meal! Today’s specials include sparkling romance, dusky mystery,and scintillating family drama. Pull up to the table and tuck in!

Let’s begin with the appetizer course:  a dusky contemporary mystery, Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon. It takes place on the California coast, and the surrounding marshes and wetlands are an important part of the story. It’s serious without being somber, and it’s thoughtful about the way women of different ages navigate today’s world. It’s a three-generations-of-women story: Lana, a high-powered real estate executive is the matriarch. Beth, a single mother, has carved out a life for herself as a nurse in an assisted-living home. Jack, a high school student, loves nature and has a job running kayak tours in the slough near their home. When a body is found in the slough during one of Jack’s tours, Jack is in the spotlight as a suspect. Lana, a cancer patient, is determined to get at the truth, and the three women respond to the crime in their vastly different ways. The pacing of the story was excellent and so was the unraveling of the mystery. I had no idea who the killer was until the very end. I enjoyed the nature descriptions of the slough and the adjoining ranch property, as well as the intergenerational conflict.

Next, for the main course we have a scintillating family drama, If We’re Being Honest by Cat Shook. Set in small-town Georgia in 2019, this is the kind of slice-of-life novel that I eat up with great enthusiasm. The catalyst is the funeral of Gerry Williams, beloved husband of prim and proper Ellen, father of three middle-aged children, grandfather of four young adult cousins. The story is told in third-person limited point of view, and the reader is privy to a slew of differing viewpoints and inner struggles within the extended Williams family. Everyone is there for Gerry’s service and the horrifying moment when Gerry’s best friend, fueled by alcohol and awkwardness, reveals some unexpected news during the eulogy. This unexpected reveal has every member of the family second-guessing what they knew about Gerry and what they know about one another. The complex plot has all kinds of threads — new relationships, new perspectives on old relationships, new realizations about oneself — that come together during this family reunion. In spite of all the drama, the story maintains a light, feel-good vibe that makes the reader want to come back for more books by this author.

Finally, for our dessert course we offer a sparkling romance, Funny Story by Emily Henry.  This friends-to-lovers story, set in small-town Michigan, is told in first person from the viewpoint of Daphne. Daphne is so worried about fitting in that she never learns to be herself around Peter, her fiance, and his family. She never even questions this when she and Peter move to the area where he grew up, where he feels comfortable and she doesn’t know anybody. Daphne’s world falls apart when Peter tells her he is leaving her, weeks before their wedding. He confesses that he’s really in love with Petra, a friend from his childhood who finally admitted to having feelings for him. Daphne has no place to live post-breakup (remember how she doesn’t know anybody?), so she moves in with Miles, the man Petra left behind when she got together with Peter. Miles and Daphne have a lot of issues to work on before their love story can really take off, but it’s a satisfying journey and the minor characters are a lot of fun, especially Daphne’s library co-worker Ashleigh. I love me a spunky librarian character. I also love Daphne’s focus on her librarian career and her passion for putting her heart into her work.

Other contemporary fiction titles include: