The Fortunes of a Jaded Woman
By Carolyn Huynh
(Simon and Schuster)
At its heart, Carolyn Huynh’s debut novel is a love story—because love is the reason the entire Duong family is cursed. Long ago, their ancestor Oanh left her marriage for true love, a brave and unconventional decision that her mother-in-law wasn’t going to let her get away with. And so she sought the aid of a fearsome witch to ensure that Oanh suffered for her shameful choice. The curse? That no Duong ever experience true love or happiness, and that the women for generations to follow onlybirth daughters, making it impossible for their ancestors to visit their home in the afterlife.From the Hoàng Liên SơnMountains to Orange County’s Little Saigon, we follow the Duong family as they try to make do with the curse they can’t seem to shake, no matter how many medicines they consume and psychics they visit. With each effort, though, they ostracize themselves from the very people they wish to be close to.The Fortunes of Jaded Women is a hilarious and heartfelt story about a fractured family finding its way back to each other. -Samantha Ladwig
People Person: A Novel
By Candice Carty-Williams
(Simon & Schuster)
Candice Carty-Williams keeps it all in the family in her highly anticipated sophomore novel, a dark comedy whose threads are woven together by a vibrant cast of characters so different from one another, you’d never suspect they were related—and neither would they.Despite sharing an absent father, 30-year-old Dimple Pennington and her four other siblings have spent very little time together. But all that changes one night when Dimple, with no one else to turn to, sends an SOS call to her older sister after a dramatic, almost inconceivable event between her and her wayward boyfriend. The eldest arrives with the three remaining siblings in tow and, as they work to clean up Dimple’s colossal mess, they unexpectedly get to know each other along the way. What follows is a tender portrait of a nontraditional. -Samantha Ladwig
Black Cake: A Novel
By Charmaine Wilkerson
It is easy to understand why this page-turner of a novel is a New York Times bestseller. For one, within its pages the same woman dies three times and lives to tell the tales. Can you imagine?! Beyond the engrossing, alluring, heart-stopping nature of the plot, it is in the details, too, that Wilkerson brings you intoBlack Cake’s world and makes you never want to leave it. The primary protagonist, Covey Lyncook, is a brilliant swimmer whose fiery personality and daring bravery lead to both her trouble and her success. In Wilkerson’s layered, multigenerational, multi-timeline story, we can see how Covey’s traits are passed onto her children, and how trauma, too, can be shared. “The biggest moments of our lives are often just that, a matter of seconds when something shifts and we react and everything changes,” writes Wilkerson, challenging readers to think about moments in their own lives that lead to pivots we would never have expected. With Black Cake, which is a joy to read and often cathartic, there isn’t a clear answer to what moments define us most, but there is one regarding what we want to leave behind for the people we love. -Robyn Smith
This article originally appeared in BUST's Fall 2022 print edition. Subscribe today!
Samantha Ladwig is a writer, book reviewer, and the owner of Imprint Bookstore in Port Townsend, Washington. Her work has been published by New York Magazine, Bustle, Real Simple, Vice, Bust Magazine, and others. Find her at www.samanthaladwig.com.