Gretel hasn’t seen her mother in sixteen years. Growing up on a boat on the Oxfordshire canals, Gretel and her mother created a world of their own, with words of their own, and a creature they called the Bonak that haunts the dark currents of the river. Now Gretel is grown, a lexicographer who tries to make sense of the words of the real world whilst not being able to make sense of her own past. Too many questions are left unanswered, and she hunts hospitals and morgues searching for her mother and for answers that only her mother can give her. When the two are reunited, Gretel begins to trawl through fragmented memories and asks, what happened to Marcus? What happened to the boy that lived with us that winter?
When immigrant Jane is offered a chance to make a life-changing amount of money at Golden Oaks Farm, she hesitantly agrees. After all, she’s not left with many other options. Jane leaves her cramped Queens dorm that she shares with her baby daughter, her super-nanny cousin Ate, and a host of other immigrants, to become a Host. For the next nine months she’ll carry the unborn child of an ultra-rich Client. Every piece of food she consumes, every action she takes, every phone call she makes, will be monitored by the Coordinators, headed up by the ambitious Mae Yu. At first Jane marvels at her surroundings, more luxurious than she’s ever known herself, but fear soon sets in as she begins to fret about her daughter’s well-being and the other Hosts’ suspicions about Golden Oaks become her own.
Living alongside the violence of Pablo Escobar’s Colombia are two young girls whose lives collide in ways that neither of them will ever forget. Seven-year-old Chula Santiago lives in a gated community in Bogotá with her sister and parents, though her father’s work often takes him out of the city. She grows up in a ‘kingdom of women’, but her kingdom is haunted by stories of the car bombs and kidnappings that go on outside the walls of her community. Petrona is a teenage girl from an invasión, an impoverished area in the hills of the city, who comes to work as a maid for the Santiagos. Chula is fascinated by Petrona’s silence and as the two grow closer, Chula herself adopts this silence, keeping Petrona’s secrets as though her life depends on it. Petrona desperately tries to steer her younger siblings away from trouble, but she soon falls for a young man who sees her wealthy employers as the perfect target.
A short story that has become a staple of feminist literature, The Yellow Wallpaper consists of journal entries by a young woman who slowly descends into madness. The narrator is taken to a colonial mansion by her physician husband in an attempt to cure her ‘nervous depression’ through rest and relaxation. Sternly advised not to write or take up any pastime, the narrator takes to examining the garish yellow wallpaper in the room she’s staying in, soon becoming convinced that there is a woman trapped behind the florid patterns.
Ijeoma is coming of age during the Nigerian Civil War, a conflict that devastates her home and her family. Sent away by her mother for her own safety, Ijeoma finds herself embarking on a passionate love affair with another girl. She quickly learns the consequences of expressing this part of her identity and struggles to navigate the violent prejudices of her people.
In a not-so-distant future, abortion is once again illegal in America. Red Clocks explores the impact of these laws on five women living in a rural Oregon fishing town: The Biographer, The Explorer, The Daughter, The Mender, and The Wife.
Lavinia has everything that Louise is missing, so when the two become unlikely best friends, Louise’s life is turned upside down. The parties get wilder, the bills get bigger, and Louise begins to question how far she’ll go keep this up, to have a life like Lavinia’s, or Lavinia’s life itself.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a coming-of-age story that follows a young Northern girl named Jeanette. Adopted and raised in a religious family, Jeanette believes she is destined to become a missionary. As Jeanette reaches her teenage years, she finds herself falling in love with another girl, and her strict Pentecostal church responds with vehemence.
When Harmony drops out of university, she decides to return to her childhood home: a North London commune that’s now a decrepit block of flats. She hopes by moving back she’ll discover the source of her unsettling nightmares. The house has changed a lot, but at the same time so much is the same. It’s still a hotbed of vices, which fuels Harmony’s search for answers, answers that may change everything she thought she knew about her parents and herself.
When college students in the small, quiet Californian town suddenly begin falling asleep and inexplicably not waking up, the lives of several town residents begin to collide and panic takes hold across the nation.