BitchReads: 25 Fiction Books You Must Read In 2018

Being able to escape into another world is one of the best parts about reading fiction. Book lovers, myself included, can attest to that surreal feeling of being sucked into a character’s thoughts, feelings, and understanding of the world they’re inhabiting. As we embark on a sure-to-be-rocky 2018 (seeing as Donald Trump will still be president), fiction is needed now more than ever.

In that spirit, Bitch has compiled 25 forthcoming novels that are sure to make an impact in the next 12 months. Some delve in the realm of the supernatural while others explore an earthquake-ravaged Haiti, a marriage doomed by wrongful incarceration, and an intergenerational love story that begins on a plantation, but each books offers an opportunity to take your mind elsewhere.

These are our Bitch Approved fiction releases for 2018.

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1. Mouths Don’t Speak by Katia D. Ulysse

Mouths Don't Speak by Katia D. Ulysse book cover

Akashic Books
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Price: $15.95

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Many people were surprised when an unexpected earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, killing over 250,000 people and leaving millions of Haitians displaced. In Mouths Don’t Speak, Katia D. Ulysse uses the earthquake as a backdrop for a gripping story about Jacqueline, a protagonist with everything to lose. After the earthquake, Jacqueline returns to Haiti to find her parents, but the home she once knew is completely gone, and the only person she can hold onto is her 3-year-old daughter. Mouths Don’t Speak is a beautiful exploration of one woman’s quest to salvage a life that’s been destroyed by an unforeseeable natural disaster.

 

2. Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee book cover

Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Price: $26.00

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In Everything Here Is Beautiful, debut author Mira T. Lee spins a beautiful tale about Miranda and Lucia, two sisters navigating the difficulties of mental illness. Miranda wants to protect her sister, who’s battling a mental illness while moving back and forth between Ecuador and the United States, while Lucia is trying to find an elusive balance between mental stability and carefreeness. At its heart, Everything Here Is Beautiful is a love letter to two sisters who are sacrificing everything to make themselves—and each other—whole.

 

3. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory book cover

Berkley
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Price: $15.00

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It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten a captivating romance novel with a Black woman protagonist who finds herself, and in the process, finds love. The Wedding Date fills that void and invokes a nostalgia that’s often reserved for Terry McMillan novels. In this page-turner, Alexa, a politically savvy lawyer, meets Drew, a pediatrician with a penchant for bed-hopping, on an elevator. Their chemistry is electric, and he invites her to accompany him to his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. From that point onward, Jasmine Guillory offers a rollercoaster of a romance between two people who are fighting themselves and their impulses the entire way.

4. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Algonquin Books
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $26.95

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Imagine this: You find the perfect partner, enter into a season of financial and career prosperity, and then, without warning, your soulmate is arrested, charged with a crime they didn’t commit, and sentenced to 12 years. That’s the premise at the center of Tayari Jones’s breathtaking novel An American Marriage. When Roy is ripped from Celestial’s life, she leans on Andre, the best man from their wedding, and begins moving forward without her incarcerated husband. When Roy is released, it sends all of three of their lives into a tailspin. Jones is a master with words and An American Marriage is the wordsmith at the top of her game.

5. Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $24.00

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It’s difficult to pull off both depth and wit, but Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi masters both in Call Me Zebra. Zebra is the last of her family of “autodidacts, anarchists, [and] atheists,” who were forced to leave Iran in the early ’90s. The 22-year-old is in New York, a city with millions of people, but purposefully isolates herself, escaping into books instead of forging connections with other people. Call Me Zebra follows her as she journeys through Spain, hoping to recreate her family’s footsteps and find some of herself along the way.

 

6. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Freeform
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Price: $17.99

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There’s a price to be paid for being beautiful, at least in the world Dhonielle Clayton constructs in The Belles. In the twisted world of Orléans, everyone is born gray, and only Belles can transform them into beauties. Camellia Beauregard is one of those Belles, and she’s sent to Orléans with her five sisters to bestow beauty on those with the money to pay for it. When Camellia’s chosen by the Queen of Orléans to personally keep the royal family beautiful, she discovers that nothing is as beautiful as it seems. Clayton creates an engrossing world that will keep you holding on to the very last page.

 

7. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Grove Press
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Price: $24.00

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Ada was born “with one foot on the other side,” according to Nigerian folklore. She’s the child her Nigerian parents prayed for, but they immediately worry about her mental state when she’s born. There’s something awry with their child, which comes to the forefront after she relocates to the United States to attend college. When she’s assaulted, Asụghara and Saint Vincent, her other identities emerge, leading to a surreal and unsettling novel that seems to get deeper and darker the further it goes.

 

8. Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe

Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe

Hachette Books Group
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Price: $26.00

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Barbed Wire Heart will be one of the best books of 2018 because it offers a rare peak into the rural communities that we culturally tend to overlook, ignore, and disregard. Protagonist Harley McKenna is the only child of Duke McKenna, their region’s most elusive criminal, who stokes fear into the hearts of those who aim to destroy his enterprise. When the Springfields, a rival crime family, ignite a turf war, Harley McKenna realizes that she has one option: take down her father and his enemies. Barbed Wire Heart will make major waves when it’s released.

9. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Soho Press
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Price: $25.00

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Graduate student Ren Ishida’s world is turned inside out when his sister, Keiko, is fatally stabbed without explanation. When he travels to Akakawa, a fictional town outside of Tokyo, to get his sister’s final affairs in order, Ishida is offered her job at a local school. He, like his sister, leaves Tokyo behind to embark on a new voyage into the unknown, and along the way, Ishida discovers who took his sister’s life and the secrets she was hiding.

 

10. Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Harper
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Price: $26.99

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Niru seems to have it all: His attentive, Nigerian parents have given him access to an elite private-school education; he’s excels academically and has accrued popularity thanks to his athletic prowess; and he’s been accepted into Harvard. Yet his queerness could derail all of his potential, which is the reason he hides it from his homophobic parents and all of his peers, outside of his best friend Meredith. When Niru’s father discovers that he’s gay, the cruel backlash upends his life and forces him to rely solely on Meredith. Their friendship grounds Speak No Evil, and marks the return of a prominent author whose words cut deep.

11. The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Price: $27.00

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Miguel Angel De La Cruz a.k.a. Big Angel knows that he’s dying. Rather than wallowing in the idea of no longer existing, Big Angel decides to throw a massive party that will unite his family and their entire San Diego neighborhood. When his 99-year-old mother dies right before the party, Big Angel moves onward with the party as a tribute to her, and then spends pages examining how he became the first generation of the De La Cruz family to live on the American side of the border. The House of Broken Angels is tender, designed to bring tears to a reader’s eye, which it certainly achieves.

 

12. M Archive: After the End of the World by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

M Archive by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Duke University Press
Release Date: March 9, 2017
Price: $24.95

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M Archive is the second book in Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s trilogy of experimental novels about Black feminism, afrofuturism, and nonlinear understandings of time and dimensions. M Archive is told through the lens of a researcher who’s living beyond the end of days and figuring out how to survive. Gumbs constructs a futuristic novel that stays with readers.

 

 

 

13. The Red Word by Sarah Henstra

The Red Word by Sarah Henstra

Grove Press, Black Cat
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Price: $16.00

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The Red Word examines rape culture on college campuses with a precision and gentleness that few novels have achieved. Raghurst is an off-campus house full of feminists who are committed to dismantling rape culture at their school. Their primary nemesis is the GBC, a fraternity that’s notorious for assaulting women and is often referred to as “Gang Bang Central.” When Karen, a college sophomore, is ushered into Raghurst, she’s enamored by her new housemates’s commitment to feminism, and becomes a part of a sinister plot to take down the GBC. While The Red Word is entertaining, it’s also a sobering reminder of the horrors inflicted on women, trans, and nonbinary people on college campuses.

 

14. Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

Custom House
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Price: $25.99

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Stray City is an incredibly touching debut novel that gets at the age-old question we’re all navigating: How do we understand the concept of “home?” When 24-year-old Andrea Morales moves from the Midwest to Portland, Oregon, she immediately throws herself into the city’s lesbian community, which helps her find her footing after suppressing her sexuality for so long. However, Morales’s new life is upended after a drunken hookup leads to an unexpected pregnancy. Stray City picks up 10-years-later when Morales’s daughter, Lucia, begins wondering about her absent father, and they start toeing a delicate line between truth and a buried past.

15. The House of Erzulie by Kirsten Imani Kasai

The House of Erzulie by Kirsten Imani Kasai

Shade Mountain Press
Release Date: March 21, 2018
Price: $24.95

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The House of Erzulie is an eerie debut novel that interweaves the horrors inflicted on a young couple living on an 1850s Louisiana plantation with a modern-day historian who’s reading and interpreting their letters. Emilie St. Ange’s Creole parents are slave owners, but she chooses to join the abolitionist movement while her biracial husband Isidore can’t stomach life on a plantation and becomes romantically involved with a woman who practices voodoo. When historian Lydia Mueller uncovers their writings and begins reading, there are unforeseen consequences that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.

16. America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

Viking
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Price: $27.00

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While the United States tends to tout the “immigrants come here for better lives” story, writers such as Elaine Castillo are offering stories that provide necessary nuance to that experience. In America Is Not the Heart, readers see immigration through the eyes of Hero de Vera, a native of the Philippines who relocates to America after her parents disown her. Although she’s living with uncle and his wife in the Bay Area of California, she can’t shake the ghosts that haunt her, even as she connects with other Filipinos and forges a new life for herself. In this unforgettable novel, Castillo offers an important pushback on the idea of the American Dream and questions who gets access to it.

17. The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Riverhead Books
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Price: $28.00

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Meg Wolitzer, the bestselling author of The Interestings, is back with The Female Persuasion, an insightful glimpse at how admiration can cloud our judgement. In this dazzling novel, Wolitzer introduces us to Greer Kadetsky, a college freshman who’s eager to meet Faith Frank, a stoic figure in the women’s rights movement who has shaped feminist discourse for many young women. When Kadetsky hears Frank speak for the first time, her world opens up, and she decides to embark on a feminist journey that will be familiar to all those who have embarked on their own paths of enlightenment. The Female Persuasion is incredibly entertaining and incisive.

18. Every Other Weekend by Zulema Renee Summerfield

Every Other Weekend by Zulema Renee Summerfield

Little, Brown and Company 
Release Date: April 7, 2018
Price: $26.00

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Divorce is difficult on families, especially those with children. Every Other Weekend shows us the impact of divorce through the lens of Nenny, an 8-year-old third grader who’s not handling her parents split well. When Nenny’s mother remarries and she’s forced to move in with her stepfather and his children, the anxiety that rules her life intensifies and she begins escaping into her own imagination to survive only seeing her father every other weekend. In her heartfelt and hilarious debut, Zulema Renee Summerfield pulls back the curtains on families that have split, but aren’t broken.

19. House of Rougeaux by Jenny Jaeckel

House of Rougeaux by Jenny Jaeckel

Raincloud Press
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Price: $26.95

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Abeje and Adunbi live on a sugar plantation on the island of Martinique with their enslaved mother. While she tries to protect them from the horrors inflicted on enslaved people, they’re left to fend for themselves after she dies. The siblings must lean on each other to survive, and in this masterful novel, Jenny Jaeckel explores how their support and sacrifices influence their family for generations. Much like Homegoing, House of Rougeaux is an intergenerational novel that uses different characters to travel through decades of turmoil and triumphs.

 

20. Leah On the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Price: $17.99

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Leah On the Offbeat is the satisfying sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Now that Simon and his best friend Leah are high school seniors and Simon has revealed that he’s gay, it seems that their biggest problems have been solved. That’s not the case for Leah. Although she’s an excellent drummer, other aspects of her life are off-beat and crumbling. She’s realized that she’s bisexual, but can’t muster the courage to tell her friends—one of whom she’s developed feelings for—and then, their friend group starts to dissolve, just as prom and college begin dominating their thoughts. In this glorious coming-of-age sequel, Becky Albertalli illuminates the growing pangs we’ve all endured.

21. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Price: $18.99

Buy It Now

Angie Thomas set the literary world ablaze in February when she released The Hate U Give, a New York Times-bestselling novel about how a police shooting disrupts a community and 16-year-old Starr Carter’s life. As The Hate U Give is adapted for the big screen, Thomas has turned her attention to On the Come Up. In her second novel, she returns to Garden Heights to follow a teen rapper who’s on the verge of superstardom and trying to navigate the pitfalls of being famous and rich.

 

22. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Berkley
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Price: $15.00

Buy It Now

Who is considered worthy of love? That’s the question at the heart of The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang’s debut novel. Protagonist Stella Lane has Asperger’s, a condition on the Autism spectrum that has a number of symptoms, including difficulty with social interactions. Lane  creates algorithms in her day-to-day life, but dating is difficult is for the 30-year-old, so she hires escort Michael Phan. He agrees to teach her about everything from French kissing to foreplay, and slowly, their relationship turns from a business arrangement to something more. The Kiss Quotient takes us on a romantic journey with a heroine we’re unaccustomed to having—perfect groundwork for a movie.

23. Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Price: $27.00

Buy It Now

Number One Chinese Restaurant is a jarring title for a book, but within its 304 pages, Lillian Li takes us into the world of restaurants that many Americans frequent, but don’t understand. The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is a neighborhood staple, but the labor of the owner, staff, and cooks is invisible. Li brings that world to life, giving readers a glimpse into what it takes to keep establishments running and serving soul-stirring food.

 

 

24. Love War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez

Love War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez

Feminist Press
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Price: $16.95

Buy It Now

What are Puerto Rican girls taught to value? In Love War Stories, author Ivelisse Rodriguez makes the case that they’re taught to seek “true love” at all costs. In this searing collection, Rodriguez explores Puerto Rican girlhood and how “love wars” erupt between girls and their mothers as they struggle between the pull of romantic love and healing power of self-love.

 

 

 

25. A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua

A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua

Ballantine Books
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Price: $27.00

Buy It Now

When Scarlett Chen falls in love with Boss Yeung—who owns the factory where she works—and becomes pregnant, she has no idea her life’s going to be permanently changed. When Yeung discovers that Chen is having a son, the married father of three sends her from China to Los Angeles to live in a home for pregnant women so their child can earn United States citizenship. When a sonogram reveals something unexpected, Chen decides to flee the home, hijack a van, and relocate to San Francisco to make it on her own. Little does she know that Yeung is searching for her, and he’s not letting her leave without a fight. 

Evette Dionne
by Evette Dionne
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Evette Dionne is Bitch Media’s editor-in-chief. She’s all about Beyoncé, Black women, and dope TV shows and books. You can follow her on Twitter.

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