The Best Debuts of 2021

I’ve never paid attention to whether or not a book is a debut until I became friends with Sarah and Susie. They track their reading (Sarah’s Book Tracker is AWESOME!) and this is a category they put a lot of emphasis on.

I recently recorded a podcast with Sarah (listen to her awesome podcast and become a Patron!) where I mentioned that I didn’t track debuts and Sarah gave me the best explanation of why she does, and so today I want to highlight the debuts I read and enjoyed this year!

What were some of your favorite debuts this year?

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr Many have indicated intimidation when it comes to this masterpiece, but every second on the Halifax Plantation was worth it. Jones can write and I was blown away by this masterpiece!

We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange If you enjoy complicated and dyfunctional families, this one is for you! I blew through it and loved the redemption found for many of the characters by the final pages.

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller You’ve probably saw this book all over the place, and while I had a few issues with some of the content, it’s still highly readable and I couldn’t put it down.

What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins This one delivers quite the gut punch, but I love emotional books more than any other type! Hard topics are explored, and this is a slow burn, but it totally delivers overall.

Things We Lost To the Water by Eric Nguyen This one reads like a memoir, but it’s a fictional account of immigration, Hurricane Katrina’s wrath on New Orleans, and a mother’s sacrifcies. It’s so good; my only complaint is it could have been longer!

The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood While this book talks about hard topics, it’s also got some witty banter sprinkled throughout that truly made me laugh out loud. I really liked this one and look forward to future work from Masood.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah PennerThis might be the most atmospheric novel I read this year. It’s told in dual timeslines and while I don’t always enjoy both story lines, in this book, I did.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton The synopsis of this one sounds a lot like Daisy Jones and The Six, but it’s much more timely and relevant to current events with it’s strong stance on social justice. Walton’s writing is fantastic and I will definitely be reading whatever she writes in the future.

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu This is a coming-of-age memoir that pulled at my heartstrings! Owusu’s writing feels personal and many of her experiences are hard to believe. Not only does she cover a wide range of topics, she also writes about so much of the world and it was quite the thrilling journey!

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones While this one starts off really strong, it does kind of fizzle out by the end. Still, there was great insight into resort towns and how the world tourists see is very different than the reality the locals live.

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