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Jenna Bush Hager selected "Leave the World Behind" by Rumaan Alam for the October Read With Jenna Book Club pick.
The book, which begins with a family from the New York City borough of Brooklyn taking a picturesque vacation to the Hamptons in Long Island, quickly devolves into something entirely different. The tranquility of the secluded rental property comes to an abrupt halt in the middle of the night when the owners of the home knock on the door announcing a massive power outage in New York City.
As the elderly Black couple fleeing the city and the upper-middle-class white family on vacation get acquainted with each other, several unexplainable events flip everything they think they know on its head. Without technology or access to information, they must take each other at their word and band together to make sense of their new reality.
For readers that couldn't put down Alam's thrilling suspense novel, the author shares five books he recommends picking up next.
1. "The Vacationers" by Emma Straub
On a beautiful two-week vacation to Mallorca, one of Spain's Balearic Islands, the Post family enjoys tapas, scenic beaches and tennis with extended family and friends. Franny and Jim observe their 35th wedding anniversary and celebrate the high school graduation of their daughter, Sylvia. Their escape from their busy lives in Manhattan is light and fun until old secrets come to the surface and past jealousies are uncovered.
This beach read is chock-full of humor and wit as it unveils one family's dark dysfunction.
2. "Magic for Beginners" by Kelly Link
In a series of stories, author Kelly Link shares aggravations and epiphanies of life. Link mixes literature with fantasy to uncover truths about humanity.
3. "Sag Harbor" by Colson Whitehead
This coming-of-age novel set in 1980s Sag Harbor tells the story of Benji Cooper, a Black boy growing up in Manhattan. As one of a few Black students at his elite prep school, he revels in his summer escapes to the Hamptons in Long Island, New York, where a small community of Black professionals has built a world of their own.
In this hilarious yet tender book, Benji undergoes the trials and tribulations of summer as a teenager.
4. "We Cast a Shadow" by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
This novel is set in the near-future American South, where Black boys with the means have the opportunity to medically remove their Blackness. How far will one father go to save his biracial son from what he sees as his fatal flaw? As he fights to protect his son, will he simultaneously destroy his family?
This book is at once a comedy and a chilling horror story. It explores deep-seated racism in American society and the desperate measures a parent will take for his or her child.
5. "The Past" by Tessa Hadley
When four adult siblings return to their grandparents' vacation home for a final summer holiday, their idyllic trip uncovers family tensions over three long, hot weeks. As secrets bubble to the surface, crisis ensues. The author reveals universal human nature through delicious prose and witty narrative.
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For more book recommendations, check out:
- 13 scary books, from classics to modern fiction, to read for Halloween
- 5 books to read if you loved "Transcendent Kingdom" by Yaa Gyasi
- Harlan Coben shares 6 books you'll want to cozy up on the couch with this fall