Miranda Beverly-Whittemore recommends 6 books that explore the quest for home
The novelist recommends works by Meg Wolitzer, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and more
Miranda Beverly-Whittemore's new novel, Fierce Little Thing, follows five friends as they return to the Maine commune where they grew up. Below, the author of June and Bittersweet recommends other books that explore the complex quest for home.
Love and Trouble by Claire Dederer (2017).
In this propulsive memoir, Dederer hungers for meaning during what some might call a "midlife crisis," recalling a parallel era — her adolescence — when she felt similarly undone. The memories of her expanding mind and burgeoning sexuality during that time give her hope that she has the capacity to once again remake herself. Buy it here.
Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge (2021).
This beautifully written novel starts in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn and follows Libertie Sampson — who is constantly compared with her mother, one of America's first Black female physicians — first to college in Ohio, then on to married life in Haiti. Throughout, Libertie quests to find a place where she can be herself, not despite who she is, but because of it. Buy it here.
Arcadia by Lauren Groff (2012).
In Groff's luscious second novel, we're introduced to Arcadia, a commune in upstate New York, through the eyes of Bit, a child who has never known another home. But as the interests and passions of the adults splinter and as Bit grows, he must survive and navigate the outside world. Buy it here.
Good Talk by Mira Jacob (2019).
Jacob's intimate graphic memoir chronicles the questions her young son, who's half Jewish and half Indian, has about race, color, and love. Her answers are found in a handful of conversations from her past. The book, as it unfolds, becomes both a map to the American experience in the age of Trump and a moving exploration of motherhood. Buy it here.
Searching for Zion by Emily Raboteau (2013).
This whip-smart memoir follows Raboteau, a young, biracial American woman, on her personal quest for home as she learns from various people who've searched for the Promised Land. Raboteau's journey from Israel to Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ghana, and through the southern United States is both a thrilling human adventure and an impeccably researched travelogue. Buy it here.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (2013).
In this decades-spanning novel, six teenagers become inseparable at summer camp — and then grow up. As they navigate varied adult lives and a shattering secret, the shared space of their friendship can sometimes seem sacred, sometimes cloying, but it is never to be ignored. Buy it here.
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