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I’ve always held a special place in my heart for debuts. There’s just something about an author’s first book that shines a little brighter and draws me to its flame. I feel like writers have held that first story inside of them for a very long time and when they finally put it out there it can be stunning. I’m such a fan, I’ve devoted an entire section in my review index to DEBUTS. 2018 proved to be a terrific year for debuts, and today I’m sharing my eight favorites from both fiction and nonfiction. Check back on Thursday, December 20th to see how many of these books make it to my Best Books of 2018 list. (I can guarantee it will be more than one!)
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee (1/16) – This debut tells the story of the fragile love between two sisters and the lifelong mental illness that divides them. The characters were vivid and rich, and the story both hopeful and heartbreaking. (my review)
Brass by Xhenet Aliu (1/23) – I adore a good coming-of-age story and Brass was the genre at its vest. In dual timelines the reader comes to know both a mother and daughter, each wanting more from their lives, but with very limited options and woefully narrow paths. (my review)
The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir (6/12) – I didn’t have a strong desire to read Essie, so listened instead. She completely wowed me! This story of a young woman trying to escape the grip of her family’s hit evangelical reality TV show turned out to be so much deeper than I’d expected. (my review)
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (8/14) – The book everyone is talking about, and for good reason! Crawdads delivers its readers a coming-of-age story, a mystery, an adventure, and a romance all wrapped up in one stunning story of a girl growing up alone in the marsh. (my review)
VOX by Christina Dalcher (8/21) – Dalcher’s debut took me completely by surprise. Her genre mash-up was mildly dystopian, a little sci-fi, thoroughly political, and a whole lot of thriller. For me, this was a winning combination that I couldn’t put down. (my review)
The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish by Katya Apekina (9/18) – A dynamic, fast paced story of two sisters trapped between parents, both ill-equipped to put their daughters’ needs above their own. The story shone on its own, but Apekina’s writing, gritty, compelling and thoroughly original, was the true star. (my review)
From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein (7/10) – A memoir of the unlikely job of a lifetime: White House stenographer, traveling the world with the Obama administration. Dorey-Stein made it feel like you were a part of her amazing journey, and a friend she liked to gossip with. (my review)
This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps (10/16) – Celebrity memoirs usually aren’t my thing, but somehow Philipps’ was. From her pre-school years on Philipps wanted to be noticed. Her lifelong journey toward achieving that goal had me laughing out loud and shedding more than one tear. (my review)
Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels.
What’s your favorite debut form 2018?
Disclosure: There are Amazon Associate links included within this post.
Sarah's Book Shelves says
Not surprisingly, we have some overlap 🙂
As always. (Thank goodness!)
I feel the exact same way about debuts. Loved Where the Crawdads Sing! Another debut I really enjoyed this year was What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan.
I missed that one, but am off to check it our right now. Thanks.
Laura @ Library of Clean Reads says
You’re right that debut novels are special. I haven’t read any on this list but Where the Crawdads Sing caught my eye.
I love it when I find a new author. We have a few in common here. I especially enjoyed Vox. I listened on audio and it was fantastic.
Nice to hear. Now I almost wish I’d listened to VOX.
Hmm, I never really seem to notice if a book is a debut or not! The Book of Essie and Vox are on my TBR though, mostly because of your reviews!
SueAnne Robinson says
I’ve read and really enjoyed many of your favorite debuts. I’m wondering whether I should try the Busy Phillips book. It sounds like what I could use at this point. I lu thing is that I have no clue who she is. Will that matter? Also, am I really out of it not knowing of her?
I knew who she was, but wasn’t really a fan. I watched very little she’d ever been on, but enjoyed her story none-the-less.
LOVE seeing BRASS here, I don’t think it got enough due. I also really liked DEEPER THE WATER…, which I thought was really different. And wackily disturbing yet funny. Some great titles here, many of which I have yet to read!
It’s nice to hear of someone else who read The Deeper the Water. I feel like it didn’t get much attention.
The Book of Essie is Megan MacLein Weir’s fiction debut, but she previously published a memoir of her time as a pediatric internal medicine resident called Between Expectations. I found it gripping and beautifully written!
I didn’t know that. Thanks so much for sharing with me. I like memoirs, so may need to give hers a try.
I love finding good debuts. Thanks for reminding me I had wanted to read Brass. I think I’ll try Essie on audio sometime, I had a hard time getting into the print
The audio was truly amazing. Give it a try. 😉
I have read 4 of the ones you list here and thought them great: especially Crawdads and From the Oval. I also liked Tangerine as a debut and a novel called Elmet. I enjoy debut novels and seem to read quite a few each year.
I liked Tangerine, too and Elmet is one of those books I’ve looked at over and over, but just never actually want to read it. Hmmm…
I enjoyed both The Book of Essie and Everything Is Beautiful. We differ on Crawdads but I’m the outlier 🙂 I’ll have to check out the others on your list.
I don’t usually take note if a book is a debut or not but it’s something I will consider tracking in the future. But one book, A Place For Us, was a debut I loved this year. The ending destroyed me – in a good way.
We differ on two big debuts this year, Crawdads and A Place for Us. I guess we’ll need to see what 2019 brings.
I don’t go looking for debuts, nor do I rule them out. I read three on your list and was generally OK with them. But, did they set me on fire and have me stalking the author for their next offering? No.
I really like finding an author who has a great back list (John Boyne! currently) and knowing that what I pick up will be a winner. I have to get more picky: my overall rating this year is 3.6 (145 read). That rating should be higher given all the research I do! I’m going to delve into my backlist more next year and see if I can nudge that rating up a little.
We really differ here. I love debuts and tend not to want to read a bunch of books by the same author. Often it feels like they get a little formulaic. The rare author who writes a completely original story every time is the best of both worlds.
Allison | Mind Joggle says
I loved Vox and Crawdads! And I just revisited your Vox review and noticed that the author left a comment–that’s so cool 🙂 Seeing your list reminds me that I’d really like to read The Deeper the Water, the Uglier the Fish.
I love it on those rare occasions when an author comments. Feels good! I think you’d like The Deeper the Water. It’s very different, but so well done.
Christina Dalcher says
Many thanks for the VOX love! 🙂
Thank you for the hours of reading pleasure. I look forward to your next book.
Jade @ Reading with Jade says
It is always a great feeling finding authors you’d like to return to having enjoyed their debut.
I haven’t read any of the mentioned titles myself, but I am so intrigued by The Book of Essie – I have heard many, many, many bloggers share great reviews on this title.