There’s something about Spring that evokes the desire for renewal. Whether we’re cleaning out our closets, reemerging from a (particularly brutal) winter hibernation, or recommitting to our yearly intentions, the spring season is all about fresh starts. Here are 8 books featuring characters who are starting over, reinventing themselves, or trying something new to help you channel that feeling of Spring rejuvenation.
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
When Aviva Grossman is caught up in a viral political scandal, she is in desperate need of a fresh start. Her decision to abandon life as she knew it and reinvent herself has far-reaching ramifications not just for Aviva, but for the other women her story intersects with. This book is charming, warm-hearted, and witty. It’s also a sharp examination of the difference between how men and women are treated by the media and just how interconnected human lives are.
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
This one has a fresh start right in the title, and while it begins in a dark place, it is, in many ways, the definition of an effervescent spring read. A year after losing her husband, Evvie Drake is still keeping a major secret from everyone in her life and feeling overwhelmed by her empty house and the possibilities of what comes next. When she decides to sublet a room to a Major League pitcher who’s lost his talent for pitching, she starts to feel like she can finally open up. This book is sweet without foregoing the hard stuff, and it’s a wonderful romance that celebrates the human capacity for growth.
Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
ZJ’s family is forced to contemplate the possibility of a totally different life when his dad, a beloved pro football player, starts to change. At first no one really knows what’s happening to Zachariah, but they soon begin to understand that years of head injuries are going to alther not just his career, but the man he was. This is a heartbreaking middle grade story about family and friends who band together to get through a living nightmare. It’s also a story of fresh starts and redemption told with Woodson’s trademark warmth and lyricism.
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
Kara is a traverser--someone sent to parallel universes to explore and bring back invaluable data. In some ways, it’s an enviable job, but the dark reality is she’s only able to travel between worlds because she’s already died in so many alternate realities. It would constitute a bit of a spoiler to explain exactly how The Space Between Worlds is about fresh starts, but trust me when I say this riveting sci-fi novel includes one of the most epic new beginnings I’ve ever encountered. It also features a sassy, no-nonsense heroine, a slow-burning Sapphic romance, and inventive social commentary.
The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol
Josephine Cortes’ life is upended when her husband runs off with his mistress to start a crocodile farm in Kenya. Josephine is left trying to balance life in Paris with two daughters and her demanding, but not particularly lucrative, career as a Medieval scholar. When Josephine’s sister Iris proposes Josephine write a Medieval romance novel (under Iris’ name), life for both families is catapulted into the spotlight and far from normal. This book is fun, flirty, and very French--a perfect spring escape.
The House of Deep Water by Jeni McFarland
This is a breathtaking book about returning home to begin again. It follows three women who all thought they’d escape their small Michigan town, but find themselves back again when life just doesn’t go as anticipated. Through their friendship with each other and a scandal that forces them to relieve past trauma, Linda, Paula, and Beth find purpose, healing, and home. The House of Deep Water is a challenging book exploring motherhood, family, and childhood trauma, but while it’s not a light or effervescent spring read, it is a stunning depiction of regeneration.
Thirty Names by Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
Thirty Names for Night is a lyrical and layered novel about a Syrian American transgender boy searching for a sense of self and a new name. When he stumbles upon the journal of Laila Z, a mysterious Syrian artist, he uncovers a history of queerness and a sense of community he never imagined. Interwoven with lush descriptions of art and ornithology and the unraveling of Laila’s disappearance, this is an intricately textured novel about reinvention and self-discovery.
Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perotta
Eve Fletcher is a 46-year-old single mom sending her son off to college and discovering that for the first time in years, she gets to think about herself. Through her Gender and Society night class and an intensifying fascination with a porn site (yes, this book is very much for adults and very much not for sensitive readers), Eve rediscovers her sexuality and herself. Perotta’s writing is warm and humorous, but he does not shy away from tricky subject matter surrounding sex, so be ready!
Leave a comment and share your favorite books featuring fresh starts.