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Read With Jenna Book Club Picks

Jenna chose these books because she loves them. If you purchase something through our links, we earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time.These books were independently chosen by Jenna Bush Hager because she loves them. Jenna was not paid to mention these items and is unaffiliated with the authors and publishers. These books are simply some of her favorite reads. If you purchase something through our links, we earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time.

  • Memoir

    "Beautiful Country" by Qian Julie Wang

    In her memoir, “Beautiful Country,” author Qian Julie Wang shares her families remarkable journey from China to the U.S. in search of a better life in New York City.
    Memoir

    "Beautiful Country" by Qian Julie Wang

    In her memoir, “Beautiful Country,” author Qian Julie Wang shares her families remarkable journey from China to the U.S. in search of a better life in New York City.

    "From joyful childhood memories to the fear and trauma that accompanied her families undocumented status, Wang’s detailed descriptions will transport readers to the streets of New York City’s Chinatown," said Jenna, "Wang writes about learning English from library books, working for pennies sewing with her mother, dancing with her dad and her mother’s constant efforts to protect her."

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  • Read With Jenna August 2021 book pick
    Mystery

    "The Turnout" by Megan Abbott

    "I love how Megan Abbott looks at the darker sides of things that we all remember, such as ballet classes as children," said Jenna, "She examines the relationship between Dara and Marie and the past that connects them while exploring themes of siblinghood, how our past predicts our future and the darker side of ballet."
    Mystery

    "The Turnout" by Megan Abbott

    "I love how Megan Abbott looks at the darker sides of things that we all remember, such as ballet classes as children," said Jenna, "She examines the relationship between Dara and Marie and the past that connects them while exploring themes of siblinghood, how our past predicts our future and the darker side of ballet."

    Sisters Dara and Marie Durant, along with Dara’s husband, Charlie, run a ballet studio they inherited after the loss of their parents in a tragic accident. Up until now, the three of them have operated in harmony, each holding their own responsibilities in the family business. Just before the annual "Nutcracker" performance, when a suspicious accident occurs in the studio, a contractor named Derek enters their lives and threatens the delicate balance under which they operate. As Derek becomes a point of fixation for Marie and convinces the trio to undertake a lofty renovation, questions begin to surface about who he is, what he knows and why he is there.

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  • Image of Hell Of A Book by Jason Mott
    Family Life

    "Hell of a Book" by Jason Mott

    "It is a timely exploration into what it means to be a Black man living in America," said Jenna. "It’s a beautiful story about family love and dedication to finding out who we are."
    Family Life

    "Hell of a Book" by Jason Mott

    "It is a timely exploration into what it means to be a Black man living in America," said Jenna. "It’s a beautiful story about family love and dedication to finding out who we are."

    Told through two parallel storylines. , "Hell of a Book" is a heart-breaking yet, at moments, hilarious, novel about living as a Black man in America. On one side, there is an unnamed Black author on a book tour through contemporary America. On the other, a young Black boy named Soot is growing up in the American South. The unnamed author is funny. Reality blurs as he experiences bizarre moments on tour and continues to encounter another unnamed character, known as The Kid. Meanwhile, in Soot’s story, we read about the injustices and fears faced by a young Black boy growing up in the South.

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  • Family Saga

    "Malibu Rising," by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    "I felt like 'Malibu Rising' was a compulsively fun read that anybody would want to throw in their beach bag," said Jenna, "I think after the year we’ve had, everybody is looking forward to summer and this book felt like the perfect kick-off. "
    Family Saga

    "Malibu Rising," by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    "I felt like 'Malibu Rising' was a compulsively fun read that anybody would want to throw in their beach bag," said Jenna, "I think after the year we’ve had, everybody is looking forward to summer and this book felt like the perfect kick-off. "

    “Malibu Rising” tells the story of one summer night that changes everything for the four Riva siblings, Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit, who are the offspring of legendary singer Mick Riva. Over the course of a 24-hour period, Reid skillfully mixes Nina’s legendary end-of-summer party with flashbacks to Mick’s tumultuous relationship with his children’s mother. I loved the contrast between 1950s and 1980s Malibu and the insight into what makes these characters who they are.

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  • Read With Jenna May 2021 book pick
    Historical Fiction

    "Great Circle," by Maggie Shipstead

    "Now, more than ever, I love reading about women who chart their own courses. As a mom of two little girls and a young boy, I believe it is important to highlight fictional and nonfictional stories of fierce, independent women who don’t conform to what society says we need to be."
    Historical Fiction

    "Great Circle," by Maggie Shipstead

    "Now, more than ever, I love reading about women who chart their own courses. As a mom of two little girls and a young boy, I believe it is important to highlight fictional and nonfictional stories of fierce, independent women who don’t conform to what society says we need to be."

    Born in 1914, Marian drops out of school at the age of 14 to follow her passion for aviation. She becomes a pilot after a wealthy bootlegger provides her with a plane and lessons, a debt she pays back for the rest of her life. A century later, Hadley Baxter is an actor caught in the prison of celebrity culture in Hollywood. When she is cast to play Marian in a film about the pilot’s disappearance in Antarctica, the two women’s fates collide. "I’m not sure I have ever highlighted such an ambitious novel," Jenna said.

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    Coming of Age

    "Good Company," by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

    "I was captivated by the way the author writes intimately about human connection, including the ties between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and friends."
    Coming of Age

    "Good Company," by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

    "I was captivated by the way the author writes intimately about human connection, including the ties between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and friends."

    This novel's story begins when, 20 years into her happy marriage, Flora discovers an envelope containing the wedding ring her husband claimed to have lost years prior. "It’s in some ways a coming-of-age book for a woman that is about to become an empty nester. We will always evolve and change. Watching this character do that will feel very relatable for a lot of different women," said Jenna.

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    Family Life

    "What's Mine and Yours," by Naima Coster

    "The story is epic in scope. It is about understanding the demons and the hardships that come before us and how they affect our lives."
    Family Life

    "What's Mine and Yours," by Naima Coster

    "The story is epic in scope. It is about understanding the demons and the hardships that come before us and how they affect our lives."

    This novel is about two American families, specifically two mothers, each fighting for a better future for their kids. "As a mother myself, I related to the mothers' fierce love for their children even when they made mistakes," said the TODAY book expert. "Nobody understands us like our families, even when imperfect."

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    Historical Fiction

    "Send for Me," by Lauren Fox

    "It’s a love story, but is also about all the complications we experience in life from heartbreak to tough choices. Truthful and real, this is a book that completely captures the textures of real life."
    Historical Fiction

    "Send for Me," by Lauren Fox

    "It’s a love story, but is also about all the complications we experience in life from heartbreak to tough choices. Truthful and real, this is a book that completely captures the textures of real life."

    Set in pre-WWII and present-day Wisconsin, this novel follows the lives of two women as each are faced with impossible choices. "I’ve read so many books set in the pre-WWII era, but this one felt really raw and fresh. It captures the emotion of what it feels like to be human."

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    Historical Fiction

    "The Four Winds," by Kristin Hannah

    "Choosing two historical fictions for February was not intentional but it definitely emphasizes our readers' desire to explore this genre," said Jenna.
    Historical Fiction

    "The Four Winds," by Kristin Hannah

    "Choosing two historical fictions for February was not intentional but it definitely emphasizes our readers' desire to explore this genre," said Jenna.

    For the first time in her book club’s history, Jenna asked a group of club members to help her select a book. They picked "The Four Winds" by Kristin Hannah, a Depression-era novel that follows the story of Elsa Wescott and her family as they strive for a better life.

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    Satire

    "Black Buck," by Mateo Askaripour

    "'Black Buck' is raw and intimate — and a title I knew our book club readers needed to read as we begin this new year with a fresh start."
    Satire

    "Black Buck," by Mateo Askaripour

    "'Black Buck' is raw and intimate — and a title I knew our book club readers needed to read as we begin this new year with a fresh start."

    This novel tells the story of 22-year-old Darren who finds himself the only Black salesman at an eccentric tech start-up in New York City. "'Black Buck' is my favorite type of book: a surprise, a fresh gift," said Jenna. "Alternating moments of satirical humor with heartbreaking realities, this is a book that will have readers both laughing and crying."

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    Literary Classic

    "The Bluest Eye," by Toni Morrison

    "It was the first book that really opened my eyes to how literature can create understanding and take you into worlds you don’t know."
    Literary Classic

    "The Bluest Eye," by Toni Morrison

    "It was the first book that really opened my eyes to how literature can create understanding and take you into worlds you don’t know."

    This novel by Jenna's favorite author of all time tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, an 11-year-old Black girl living in Ohio who longs to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed. "I was totally in awe of Toni Morrison’s ability to make us feel like we were walking in Pecola’s footsteps," Jenna recalled about the first time she read the novel in her sophomore English class at Austin High School. "I remember marking it up like I had never marked up any books before."

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    Coming of Age

    "White Ivy," by Susie Yang

    "White Ivy is a juicy and fun read with a shocking twist. It’s a coming-of-age novel that will lead to conversations about otherness and ambition."
    Coming of Age

    "White Ivy," by Susie Yang

    "White Ivy is a juicy and fun read with a shocking twist. It’s a coming-of-age novel that will lead to conversations about otherness and ambition."

    This novel follows the story of Ivy, a Chinese immigrant who strives for the glamorous life she associates with the American Dream, through any means necessary. "Ivy isn’t your typical heroine," Jenna explained. "She’s got a bit of an honesty problem and she loves to steal."

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    Family Life

    "Leave the World Behind," by Rumaan Alam

    "It’s chilling and mysterious but also poignant and even funny. My only advice: Read it with the lights on."
    Family Life

    "Leave the World Behind," by Rumaan Alam

    "It’s chilling and mysterious but also poignant and even funny. My only advice: Read it with the lights on."

    Jenna first read this book in the middle of the darkest days of the pandemic. The ominous novel tells the story of two families, strangers to each other, who become stranded in a vacation home together after a blackout. "It is a suspense at its core, but to call it only a thriller discredits the incredible detail and intimacy with which the author writes about and understands family dynamics and race," said Jenna.

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    Family Life

    "Transcendent Kingdom," by Yaa Gyasi

    "Where do we look for solace when the worst happens? How do we make sense of senseless tragedies? This is a story about those big questions."
    Family Life

    "Transcendent Kingdom," by Yaa Gyasi

    "Where do we look for solace when the worst happens? How do we make sense of senseless tragedies? This is a story about those big questions."

    This novel follows the story of Gifty, a young Ghanaian-American woman pursuing a Ph.D., as she copes with loss and unanswered questions. "It’s also a book about mental health and race and I believe that, at this moment in our culture, it will lead to some really important conversations," said Jenna.

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    Memoir

    "Here For It," by R. Eric Thomas

    "Here For It" is a memoir, presented through essays, about Thomas's life, identity and journey to self-acceptance while he was growing up as a Black and queer man in the U.S.
    Memoir

    "Here For It," by R. Eric Thomas

    "Here For It" is a memoir, presented through essays, about Thomas's life, identity and journey to self-acceptance while he was growing up as a Black and queer man in the U.S.

    Jenna selected this novel in collaboration with Noelle Santos, owner of The Lit Bar, the only independent bookstore in The Bronx. In the wake of George Floyd's death, Jenna shared that she wanted to promote a book that could continue important conversations happening around the country. "I knew (Santos) would have ideas on books that we can read as a club that would help us open our minds," said Jenna.

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    Coming of Age

    "The Comeback," by Ella Berman

    "This beautifully written and compulsively readable book broke me from my pandemic blockage," said Jenna. "It is the perfect summer read."
    Coming of Age

    "The Comeback," by Ella Berman

    "This beautifully written and compulsively readable book broke me from my pandemic blockage," said Jenna. "It is the perfect summer read."

    In this novel, young actress Grace Turner reckons with the abuse that Hollywood allows. "Berman astonishingly began writing the novel before the #MeToo movement—and the novel takes advantage of the distance afforded by fiction to brilliantly continue the important conversation," said Jenna.

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    Coming of Age

    "Friends and Strangers," by J. Courtney Sullivan

    “'Friends and Strangers' is a compellingly readable book that feels a little bit like a beach read, but at the same time tackles themes of acceptance of others and also of yourself."
    Coming of Age

    "Friends and Strangers," by J. Courtney Sullivan

    “'Friends and Strangers' is a compellingly readable book that feels a little bit like a beach read, but at the same time tackles themes of acceptance of others and also of yourself."

    Told from alternating perspectives of a young mom named Elisabeth and her nanny, Sam, this is a book about what it means to live an authentic, happy and purposeful life. "It’s a compelling book that takes on modern issues surrounding adulthood, motherhood, and class."

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  • Read with Jenna Book Pick
    Political Thriller

    "A Burning," by Megha Majumdar

    "Themes of fate and class, corruption and justice abound as 'A Burning' poses the question: Who do we stand by when the worst happens? And what do we stand for?"
    Political Thriller

    "A Burning," by Megha Majumdar

    "Themes of fate and class, corruption and justice abound as 'A Burning' poses the question: Who do we stand by when the worst happens? And what do we stand for?"

    Set in contemporary India, the book tells the plight of three unique characters whose lives become entangled after a horrific terrorist attack. "I've never been to India, but through Megha’s words, I was transported there," said Jenna.

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    Family Life

    "All Adults Here," by Emma Straub

    "I think in a time when all we want is hope, 'All Adults Here' is a bright and beautiful book to reach for."
    Family Life

    "All Adults Here," by Emma Straub

    "I think in a time when all we want is hope, 'All Adults Here' is a bright and beautiful book to reach for."

    "The book explores how families can be messy and complicated while at the same time stay centered on love. It poses big themes that you can discuss with friends and family but also remains light and fun at its core."

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    Historical Fiction

    "Valentine," by Elizabeth Wetmore

    "This beautiful story of justice, redemption, grace, and strength will arrest and transport you," said Jenna.
    Historical Fiction

    "Valentine," by Elizabeth Wetmore

    "This beautiful story of justice, redemption, grace, and strength will arrest and transport you," said Jenna.

    Set in Odessa, Texas, in 1976, this novel follows the aftermath of a horrific act of violence: the attack of a 14-year-old girl named Gloria Ramirez. "From the beginning, I was drawn to the book’s setting: a western corner of my home state of Texas," said Jenna. "I also immediately felt my heritage in this novel, even glimpsing my grandma Jenna—a homemaker who never graduated from college but taught me every constellation in the sky—in the women of Valentine."

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    Coming of Age

    "Writers & Lovers,” by Lily King

    How long is it OK to hold onto a dream that isn’t coming true? Can you really have a love life and your dream career? These questions are at the heart of this coming-of-age story.
    Coming of Age

    "Writers & Lovers,” by Lily King

    How long is it OK to hold onto a dream that isn’t coming true? Can you really have a love life and your dream career? These questions are at the heart of this coming-of-age story.

    After the unexpected death of her beloved mother, aspiring writer Casey Peabody finds herself in a love triangle between a writing professor and his student. “I chose 'Writers and Lovers' because I don’t think I’ve chosen a book like this,” said Jenna. “Lily King really explores different themes that our book club hasn’t explored.”

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    Coming of Age

    "The Girl With The Louding Voice," by Abi Daré

    "While reading, there were times when I felt like Adunni was whispering, singing and in parts, crying to me," Jenna said. "This is truly a love story about one young girl whose resilience and grit drive her, until her voice is loud and clear."
    Coming of Age

    "The Girl With The Louding Voice," by Abi Daré

    "While reading, there were times when I felt like Adunni was whispering, singing and in parts, crying to me," Jenna said. "This is truly a love story about one young girl whose resilience and grit drive her, until her voice is loud and clear."

    This debut novel tells the beautiful story of a young woman named Adunni who finds her voice and creates her own destiny in modern-day Nigeria. "She doesn’t get an education, she isn’t allowed to learn. Although it’s the fictional story of one young girl in Nigeria, it really is the story of so many others," Jenna explained.

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    Coming of Age

    "Dear Edward," by Ann Napolitano

    "I choose Dear Edward because it is a book about love and loss and finding your way after the unthinkable."
    Coming of Age

    "Dear Edward," by Ann Napolitano

    "I choose Dear Edward because it is a book about love and loss and finding your way after the unthinkable."

    This novel tells the story of a 12-year-old boy named Edward after he is the sole survivor of a plane crash that claims the lives of 183 passengers, including his family. "One element of this story I particularly loved was the relationship between Edward and his brother which reminded me so much of my sister and I," Jenna said.

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  • Illustration of a book picked by RWJ for the December 2019 book of the month pick
    Memoir

    "Late Migrations," by Margret Renkl

    "It was a beautiful walk in the woods, you stopped and took in all of these beautiful things about life," Jenna said, "About relationships, about family, about friendships, about finding who you are."
    Memoir

    "Late Migrations," by Margret Renkl

    "It was a beautiful walk in the woods, you stopped and took in all of these beautiful things about life," Jenna said, "About relationships, about family, about friendships, about finding who you are."

    Late Migrations is a compilation of essays written by author Margaret Renkl that weave together to touch on themes of love, loss and hope. The book begins with the story Renkl was told about the birth of her mother and ends with her death. "The way that she put it all together felt like a beautiful collage," Jenna said.

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  • Illustration of a book picked by RWJ for the November 2019 book of the month pick
    Humorous

    "Nothing to See Here," by Kevin Wilson

    "It sounds a little bit sci-fi but I don’t think any book has touched me about parenthood as much as 'Nothing to See Here,'" Jenna said.
    Humorous

    "Nothing to See Here," by Kevin Wilson

    "It sounds a little bit sci-fi but I don’t think any book has touched me about parenthood as much as 'Nothing to See Here,'" Jenna said.

    This story centers around a pair of estranged, longtime friends, Madison and Lillian, whose lives have gone in dramatically different directions. "The theme is definitely on family and being yourself and finding who you are, even if what you are seems strange to the rest of the world," Jenna explained.

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    Family Life

    "The Dutch House," by Ann Patchett

    “I read ‘The Dutch House’ right after I had Hal, and even in the middle of the night when I was feeding him I reached for this beauty of a book," said Jenna.
    Family Life

    "The Dutch House," by Ann Patchett

    “I read ‘The Dutch House’ right after I had Hal, and even in the middle of the night when I was feeding him I reached for this beauty of a book," said Jenna.

    Set over five decades, this novel follows the close sibling relationship of the book's main characters, Danny and Maeve, as they navigate life's obstacles. “What I kept coming back to in this book was Danny and Maeve’s closeness, their bond, how they raise each other,” said Jenna.

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    Historical Fiction

    "The Dearly Beloved," by Cara Wall

    "I think it would be really interesting to read with your spouse and with friends," Jenna explained. "I told (my husband) Henry right after I finished it that I thought he should read it."
    Historical Fiction

    "The Dearly Beloved," by Cara Wall

    "I think it would be really interesting to read with your spouse and with friends," Jenna explained. "I told (my husband) Henry right after I finished it that I thought he should read it."

    This gracefully written novel follows two couples brought together to lead a historic church in New York City during the 1960s and traces the course of their lives before and after they intersect. "It’s a book about faith, friendship, relationships and what connects us," Jenna said.

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    Motherhood

    "Patsy," by Nicole Dennis-Benn

    "She wants freedom, and as you read you understand what she’s running from — the secrets she needs to be freed of."
    Motherhood

    "Patsy," by Nicole Dennis-Benn

    "She wants freedom, and as you read you understand what she’s running from — the secrets she needs to be freed of."

    This story begins in Jamaica as the titular character gets her visa and makes the difficult decision to leave her daughter, Tru, behind while she seeks a better life for herself in America. "I think particularly now it’s critical that we open our minds to the way others live," Jenna said.

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    Humorous

    "Evvie Drake Starts Over," by Linda Holmes

    "I was captivated by Evvie Drake right away," said Jenna. "By the character of Evvie — and her predicament of finding herself as a young widow and trying to find herself after being in this marriage and being in this relationship since high school."
    Humorous

    "Evvie Drake Starts Over," by Linda Holmes

    "I was captivated by Evvie Drake right away," said Jenna. "By the character of Evvie — and her predicament of finding herself as a young widow and trying to find herself after being in this marriage and being in this relationship since high school."

    This debut novel from Holmes (who's best known as the host of NPR's "Pop Culture Happy Hour" podcast) follows the titular character Evvie Drake a year after the death of her husband. "In a lot of romantic comedies, you kind of know exactly what’s going to happen," Jenna said. "You know exactly the character's motivation, which is to find the guy. And really, I think (Evvie's) motivation is to find herself. And to me that felt really empowering and fresh."

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    Mystery

    "Searching for Sylvie Lee," by Jean Kwok

    "Mysteries are my guilty pleasures. I always think I'm kind of good at solving what's happened early on in the book," Jenna explained.
    Mystery

    "Searching for Sylvie Lee," by Jean Kwok

    "Mysteries are my guilty pleasures. I always think I'm kind of good at solving what's happened early on in the book," Jenna explained.

    This gripping story begins when Sylvie Lee goes missing on a trip to visit her extended family in the Netherlands and her sister, Amy, must step up to lead the search. "Amy is searching for her sister and the sisterhood is, I think, the most beautiful part of it," Jenna said.

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    Womanhood

    "A Woman Is No Man," by Etaf Rum

    "It's about what is acceptable for a woman — how a woman can use her voice," Jenna told TODAY. "And to see these women change, and to see their idea of what they can be change over generations is really the story of so many women."
    Womanhood

    "A Woman Is No Man," by Etaf Rum

    "It's about what is acceptable for a woman — how a woman can use her voice," Jenna told TODAY. "And to see these women change, and to see their idea of what they can be change over generations is really the story of so many women."

    Following three women in a Palestinian family, this novel explores the tension between each woman's expectations and dreams as they raise the next generation of women in the U.S. "The story really captivated me," Jenna said. "I couldn’t put it down."

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    Memoir

    "The Unwinding of the Miracle," by Julie Yip-Williams

    "She wrote throughout her cancer diagnosis to, I think, make sense of it," Jenna said. "But she also had two young daughters, like I do. She was the same age that I am when she was diagnosed, which I think was one reason I immediately connected with it."
    Memoir

    "The Unwinding of the Miracle," by Julie Yip-Williams

    "She wrote throughout her cancer diagnosis to, I think, make sense of it," Jenna said. "But she also had two young daughters, like I do. She was the same age that I am when she was diagnosed, which I think was one reason I immediately connected with it."

    Published posthumously, Yip-Williams' memoir traces her life beginning with her tumultuous childhood in Vietnam through her personal and professional successes as an adult. When confronted with a terminal diagnosis, she set out to document the miraculous life she'd led and the difficult task of grappling with its early end.

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    Family Life

    "The Last Romantics," by Tara Conklin

    "The Skinner siblings have this dynamic that any of us who are lucky enough to have siblings or best friends that are like sisters or brothers, we know that feeling of that shared history," Jenna said.
    Family Life

    "The Last Romantics," by Tara Conklin

    "The Skinner siblings have this dynamic that any of us who are lucky enough to have siblings or best friends that are like sisters or brothers, we know that feeling of that shared history," Jenna said.

    Jenna kicked off her book club with this moving and intimate novel that follows the story of four siblings as they grapple with tragedy. The final page of "The Last Romantics" is one of Jenna's favorite last pages of any book she's read!

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