The Brightest Sun by Adrienne Benson

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In Benson’s debut novel, we are swept away to the world of Africa, where European settlers in the big cities live alongside traditional villages with its inhabitants and culture. Throughout the stories in this book, the thread that ties it all together is the theme of motherhood.

We meet Leona, a woman traveling from the United States to study and live among the villagers. After accidentally getting pregnant and giving birth to her daughter Adia, Leona decides to hand off raising the child to Simi, the only villager who can speak English and who yearns for a child of her own but cannot have.

Meanwhile, Jane, another Westerner, has arrived to photograph the horrors of elephant poaching. She winds up falling in love with a fellow ex-pat and the two have a daughter of their own: Grace.

Eventually, the stories of Leona, Simi, Jane, and Grace all intertwine like the gnarled roots of an African tree rising high from the desert ground. This is an epic tale of mothers and daughters, friendship, culture and colonization, family secrets, and the need to belong, all set against the backdrop of the blazing African sun (Submitted by Alan).

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Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi

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Penny is angry with her mom, Celeste. She’s going away to college to be a writer. Sam is stuck. He is in a low paying job as a baker/barista, his ex-girlfriend is pregnant, he has no money, and he wants to be a film director. Their paths collide in the centre of town and they become each other’s Emergency Contact. Great writing from 2 points of view, believable scenarios. (Submitted by Sharleen)

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