Family Ties: May Debuts

This month’s audiobooks from debut authors may all seem completely different from each other, but they share a common thread: family (no matter how peculiar, or downright dangerous some of these particular families may be). You’ll be introduced to a number of family dynamics in these audiobooks, including a self-constructed family created to take on the last day on Earth, a teen who is mourning her father, or a preacher who valued insurance money over familial bonds.

One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the Kamchatka Peninsula at the northeastern edge of Russia, two girls go missing. In the ensuing weeks, then months, the police investigation turns up nothing. Echoes of the disappearance reverberate across a tightly woven community, with the fear and loss felt most deeply among its women. Through a young writer’s virtuosic feat of empathy and imagination, brought to life by celebrated narrator Ilyana Kadushin, this powerful audiobook brings us to a new understanding of the intricate bonds of family and community, in a Russia unlike any we have seen before.

Author: Casey Cep
Read By: Hillary Huber

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted. Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who had traveled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood. Now author Casey Cep and narrator Hillary Huber bring this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South, while simultaneously offering a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.

Against the starkly beautiful backdrop of Anchorage, Alaska, Marin Sardy weaves a fearless account of the schizophrenia that kept her mother immersed in a world of private delusion and later manifested in her brother, ultimately claiming his life. Read by the brilliant Cassandra Campbell, self-contained chapters take listeners through three generations of this adventurous, artistic, and often haunted family. The Edge of Every Day draws in topics from neuroscience and evolution to the mythology and art rock to shape its brilliant inquiry into how the mind works.

Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger; it’s the first time a teacher is going into space, and kids across America will watch the event. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together, but Bridget has disappeared and Nova finds herself in a new foster home. While her foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understood how intelligent and special Nova is. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova’s new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and for the first time, she faces the prospect of making friends without Bridget.

In Domenica Ruta’s profoundly original audiobook read by fan-favorite Edoardo Ballerini, the end of the world comes once a year. Every May 28, humanity gathers to anticipate the planet’s demise—and to celebrate as if the day is truly its last. On this ancient holiday, three intersecting sets of characters embark on a possibly last-chance quest for redemption. With sparkling wit, verbal ingenuity, and wild imagination, Ruta has created an alternate world in which one day brings into stark reflection our deepest dreams, desires, hopes, and fears.

Author: Helena Fox
Read By: Candice Moll

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom, and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was seven. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface–normal okay regular fine. But after what happens on the beach, the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. How it Feels to Float explores the hard and beautiful places loss can take us, and honors those who hold us tightly when the current wants to tug us out to sea.