Becoming Nicole: The Transformation Of An American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt. (Random House) After Kelly and Wayne Maines adopted twins, Wyatt and Jonas, Wyatt, who would later become Nicole, soon knew that he was a girl. The family – particularly Kelly, who readily stepped into the role as an advocate for her child – challenged school administrators, bullies and neighbors who were skeptical of Nicole, and Nutt traces the Maineses’ moving journey as they fought to protect their child’s right to develop into the woman she knew herself to be.
Adult Onset by Ann-Marie MacDonald. (Tin House) Mary Rose is the celebrated author of a series of young adult novels, but her third volume has stalled after she takes over caregiver duties for her children. With her partner away for work, Mary Rose descends into domestic misery. MacDonald’s skillful depiction of her heroine’s unraveling results in a “complicated braid of third-person narration,” Maggie Pouncey wrote in The New York Times.
Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life Of Henrietta Bingham by Emily Bingham. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Henrietta, the author’s violet-eyed, statuesque great-aunt, had a capacity to make men and women fall in love with her. In this biography, Bingham tracks her great-aunt’s life, which coincided with a brief period in the 1900s when unconventional desires were gaining acceptance.
Housebreaking by Dan Pope. (Simon & Schuster) Audrey, her husband and their daughter have moved to the manicured suburb where she attended boarding school as a teenager. The family is coping poorly with a tragedy: The parents pursue ill-advised affairs, and the daughter numbs her grief with drugs and shoplifting. Ultimately, their story is, as reviewer, Lauren Acampora, wrote, “a heartfelt chamber piece of flawed personalities, calamitous decisions and unexpected moments of grace.”
How To Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration Of The Mathematics Of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng. (Basic Books) Cheng demystifies math by using recipes to explain mathematical concepts. Her two passions have a good deal in common: Baking and math are centered on similar principles, Cheng notes here, and her clever guide offers tangible examples of abstract ideas.
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) Four brothers in 1990s Nigeria encounter a madman who delivers a frightening prophecy: One of them will kill their eldest brother. The youngest, Benjamin, recounts their story in this debut novel. As the weight of the prediction comes to bear on the family, they are brought closer by their shared bad luck and shame.
The Man Who Couldn't Stop: Ocd And The True Story Of A Life Lost In Thought by David Adam. (Picador) A science writer recounts his experience of being hijacked by obsessive thoughts – particularly that he would contract AIDS – while outlining the biological and neurological origins of the disorder.
New York Times