1. I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley:
Pros: funny, thoughtful in unexpected places—like a This American Life piece. Cons: too familiar, with occasionally forced conclusions—like a This American Life piece.
2. The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta:
Liberal health teacher Ruth and ex-druggie Christian Tim are complex grownups with believable pasts. Perotta aces middles but falls flat with endings (a minor crime).
3. Bloodvine by Aris Janigian:
This tale of farming and feuding in the Valley is a poetic portrait of Armenian America. But it’s a first novel, so prepare for unevenness.