Grown-Up Reads

The Best Grown-Up Reads of
June 2019

by the Brightly Editors

June’s best new reads for adults feature breathtaking family novels that span generations, a lyrical exploration of a fraught mother-son relationship, a lavish historical novel and a dark comedy that center on wildly different facets of the female experience, and a memoir from a mother and recovering opioid addict. Sound like an epic month of reading? We agree!

  • High Achiever

    by Tiffany Jenkins

    You may know Tiffany Jenkins from her blog, Juggling the Jenkins, where she writes about motherhood, marriage, and addiction. In High Achiever — a memoir written with the pace and twists of fiction — Jenkins relives the moment when her double lives became one. Not only did her community discover she’d gone from high school cheerleading captain to opioid addict, but also that she’d committed multiple felonies while dating the Deputy Sheriff. Honest and full of Jenkins’s good humor, High Achiever is ultimately a hard-won journey to recovery.

  • The Travelers

    by Regina Porter

    Debut novelist Regina Porter’s playwriting background shows in this sprawling, intergenerational saga of two families that intersect and divide against the backdrop of six decades of American history. Their connection begins when Rufus Vincent, the son of a wealthy Irish American attorney, marries Claudia Christie, the daughter of an African American airman called to Vietnam. But the story reaches back into the roots of the family tree and also into the future, where we re-meet beloved characters through partners and children, and watch them navigate love, loss, intolerance, and joy.

  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

    by Ocean Vuong

    In this lyrical coming-of-age novel, the speaker — Little Dog — writes letters to his mother, who cannot read, at once attempting to understand her traumatic past in Vietnam and also begging for connection in the here and now. A critically acclaimed poet, Ocean Vuong’s language is lush and exacting, and his story of self-discovery treads both intimate and universal waters of race, class, masculinity, and the immigrant experience. Tender and difficult, yet always compassionate, it’s a novel that will stay with you.

  • City of Girls

    by Elizabeth Gilbert

    Elizabeth Gilbert is back with a splash in this historical novel of one woman’s glamorous and sensual road to empowerment. At 89 years old, Vivian Morris reflects back on her life, which took an unexpected turn in 1940 when she was sent to live with her Aunt Peg — who owned an extravagant theater company. Home to a lively and progressive cast of characters, the theater awakened a passion and verve in Vivian; it was also where she met the love of her life, and where she made a mistake-turned-scandal that took years to reconcile.

  • Bunny

    by Mona Awad

    Darkly funny and compulsively readable, Bunny is set amongst a prestigious, New England MFA program, where scholarship student Samantha Mackey could really do without the rest of her fiction cohort: a group of wealthy and inseparable women who call each other “Bunny.” Still, Samantha finds herself inexplicably drawn in to the Bunnies’ strange rituals, which become more and more cultish before eventually blossoming into something deadly. A unique tale of obsessive friendship and the urge to belong, Mona Awad’s Bunny is the surreal read of the summer.

  • The Most Fun We Ever Had

    by Claire Lombardo

    When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fell in love in 1970s Chicago, they couldn’t know that they would one day be parents to four radically different adult daughters: Wendy, Violet, Liza, and Grace. But those differences rise to the surface in 2016, when Jonah Bendt — given up for adoption 15 years earlier by one of the daughters — reappears in the family’s lives. A multigenerational novel that digs into the secrets, resentments, and deep love between these characters, Claire Lombardo’s debut makes for a sublime reading experience.

Looking for more page-turning adult titles to dive into this month? Visit our friends over at Read it Forward, a team of bookish editors dedicated to helping you find your next great read!