By Annabel Gutterman
June 28, 2019

A young mother faces her worst fears when an intruder breaks into her home. A Florida teen struggles under the unjust weight of Jim Crow. And a group of women band together to reclaim authority over their bodies. This month’s best new novels promise to keep readers absorbed in page-turning stories. From acclaimed writer Colson Whitehead to debut novelist Ruchika Tomar, here are six fiction books to read in July.

The Need, Helen Phillips (7/9)

While home alone with her two young children, Molly is startled when she believes she hears an intruder. But she is immediately left guessing: is there a real person in her house or is it just a symptom of her worn out, anxiety-ridden mind? In The Need, Molly embarks on a complicated journey that tests everything she knew about being a mother, a wife and a woman.

A Prayer for Travelers, Ruchika Tomar (7/9)

Before Cale Lambert reconnected with her old high school classmate Penny, she was a loner. But the two begin waitressing together and form a deep bond — until a violent incident disrupts their reality. Penny disappears and Cale decides to go searching for her, discovering secrets about their small desert town along the way.

Supper Club, Lara Williams (7/9)

Roberta feels stuck. She’s not satisfied with her job, yet hesitates to pursue what she really wants to do: cook. But then Roberta meets Stevie, an artist, and the two set out to create a space where they can truly be themselves. As they embrace their appetites and recruit others to join them, Williams explores the complex relationship many women have with their deepest desires.

Costalegre, Courtney Maum (7/16)

All 15-year-old Lara Calaway wants is for her mother Leonora, a wealthy art collector, to notice her. It’s 1937 and they’ve just left Europe on the brink of World War II, setting up residence in Costalegre, where Leonora has invited a group of surrealist artists to stay at her home. Drawing inspiration from the real-life relationship between Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter Pegeen, Maum reveals the power a mother holds over her daughter as Lara desperately vies for Leonora’s attention.

The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead (7/16)

Whitehead, a Pulitzer Prize winner, sets his latest novel in Jim Crow-era Florida, where Elwood Curtis unexpectedly finds himself at the Nickel Academy, an abusive reform school. Inspired by the true story of a school in Florida, Whitehead has crafted a pressing narrative that, like his 2016 novel The Underground Railroad, probes the country’s ugly racist past.

Speaking of Summer, Kalisha Buckhanon (7/30)

After her twin sister mysteriously goes missing from their shared Harlem home, Autumn Summer begins to spiral out of control. Frustrated by the complacency of the authorities, who appear to be unconcerned by the disappearance of another black woman, Autumn sets out to find her sister herself. Buckhanon unravels a powerful story that examines violence, race and grief.

Write to Annabel Gutterman at annabel.gutterman@time.com.

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