As the school year begins, and we spend our days studying and chatting with friends, we may find ourselves looking for a way to rewind. What better way than reading fiction novels that seem familiar yet offer a twist on reality? Here is a collection of some books that will offer adventure but also a way to destress after a tiring day:
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
A poignant novel with strong themes of gender discrimination and unexpected friendships. A Thousand Splendid Suns follows the close friendship of Mariam and Laila, two women who both, after tragedies hit, are forced into a marriage with Rasheed. The novel takes place in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Though they are bitter towards one another at first, circumstances eventually lead to a close friendship. Detailing the lack of women’s rights during wartime, domestic abuse, and sisterhood, this novel will touch you in unexpected ways.
Flipped by Wendelin Van Drannen
Flipped is a simple yet familiar coming of age mixed with romance. The story is told from the perspectives of the two protagonists: Julianna (Juli) Baker and Bryce Loski. They initially meet in second grade, where Juli falls in love with Bryce. However, Bryce resists her advances—until he finds himself also attracted to Juli. This novel was also made into a film adaptation, which helps to give the story far more clarity.
Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Tokyo Ever After is yet another romantic comedy and is perfect if you enjoyed To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Izumi Tanaka, a regular high school student in the US, has discovered that her absent father is actually the Crown Prince of Japan. The story details Izumi’s experiences adapting to royal life and kindling a relationship with an attractive bodyguard. Though there are a few plot holes and awkward flow of events, the novel is guaranteed to make you either swoon or laugh.
How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao
Imagine a far more intense IMSA. After the death of their ex-best friend, Jamie Ruan, four friends at an elite high school must come to terms with this tragedy by navigating what seems like a homicide of Jamie, their personal secrets, and the secret they all share. Elements of school, like the over-prioritization of academic stance and socioeconomic divisions, are exaggerated to create a blood-curdling thriller about friendship and acceptance.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko is a historical fiction novel (and drama series) that acknowledges the challenges faced by Koreans during Japanese imperialism. The story stretches across generations, with the first book starting in 1910 and the third book ending in 1989. The protagonist Sunja is married into a rich family after Japanese imperialism forces her family into poverty. She and her descendants grapple with the idea of a Korean heritage, blending in, and family. The novel can be heavy but is worth the read due to its historically accurate portrayal.