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Now that December is here, you’re going to be seeing end-of-year lists all over the place. I’m kicking mine off with one of my very favorites, Underrated Gems. These are the books that just didn’t seem to get the attention that I think they deserved. Obviously, each of the books here I enjoyed immensely and I think others will, too. So, if you’re looking for something a little different or want a book that everyone else hasn’t read, please consider one of these.
A really bizarre thing about my underrated gems this year…they are ALL debuts. You may be seeing one or two later this month when I do my Best Debuts of 2022.
- Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors – This February release actually has a lot few reviews/ratings on Goodreads, and was nominated in two different categories for their annual awards, but I saw very little of it. I think it was much bigger with UK readers than those here. Anyway, this is the story of a young woman and an older man. She’s an artist, he’s in business. They fall in love and eventually get married, but this is not a romance. It’s a stunning unconventional story of a very tempestuous relationship. (my review)
- Jobs for Girls With Artistic Flair by June Gervais – You’ve got to love both the title and the cover of this book! But, don’t stop there because this is also a great coming-of-age story. It’s 1985 and Gina has just turned 18. Having practically grown up in her older brother’s tattoo shop, Gina wants nothing more than to become a tattooer herself. She faces many road blocks including attitudes of the time toward tattoo artists in general, and toward female tattoo artists in particular. (my review)
- Kaleidoscope by Cecily Wong – This was one of those books that took me by surprise. Above all, this is a story about the relationship between two sisters, Morgan and Riley, daughters of very successful entrepreneurs. It’s about the reasons they’re close, why they drift apart, and how one reacts after she’s left on her own. It’s also about both sisters’ relationships with their parents. It’s about crossing boundaries, being lost and finding yourself again, and ultimately this is a love story in which love takes on many different forms. I read it in a single day and I rarely do that! (my review)
- Mother in the Dark by Kayla Maiuri – You know I like a good dark story and when it’s about a family, that’s icing on the cake! This is a true dysfunctional family story, with tension running high between all five members of the family. Told from the perspective of Anna, the eldest of three daughters, we learn about the discontent, trauma, neglect, mental illness and alcoholism that splinter her family. Some may feel a little uncomfortable with this one, but the writing is superb and the story as gritty and captivating as they come. (my review)
- The Net Beneath Us by Carol Dunbar – I am not a person who could EVER live off the grid, yet I find the idea fascinating. As the book opens Elsa’s husband, the love of her life and the one who keeps their home in the woods running, has just been severely injured in a logging accident. Only after the accident does Elsa begin to realize just how much her husband was doing to keep their little family safe and alive. It’s quickly clear how very unprepared she is. This is both terrifying and humbling, and Elsa, fearing judgment, is resistant to the help around her. This is an amazing story of grief and survival and one I wish more people had read. (my review)
- The Old Place by Bobby Finger – If you are a fan of characters like Olive Kitteridge, then I think you’d love Mary Alice, the central character in The Old Place. Like Olive, she’s a bit of a curmudgeon, but a very lovable one. Mary Alice has lived a sad life, but we don’t exactly know why until well into this story. It’s character driven, but with a lot going on. Her small Texas town is populated with charming, quirky characters brimming with authenticity. For what initially feels like a whimsical, odd little story it gets pleasingly emotional by the midpoint. I breezed through this book at a rapid pace! (my review)
Do you have a favorite underrated gem from 2022?
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At least a couple of these are now added to my TBR. Thanks, Susie!
Hope I am not double posting. Could not tell if my comment went through!
I had Kaleidoscope & Mother In The Dark, but did not get to them.
I just heard Cleopatra & Frankenstein mentioned on Sarah’s Bookshelves podcast yesterday & was able to be first in line on library wait list!
And I have a copy of The Old Place!
I need to finish reading The Secret History first. 30th anniversary & I am just getting to it, lol. It seemed to be on everyone’s list of favorite reads (especially young people) & it is good. Almost finished!!
Thanks for these recommendations. We tend to overlook so many worthy reads in favor of the more popular ones. I am certainly guilty of it.
Then there are some hidden gems worth getting back to.