15 New Books Coming in June

Miles, a Harvard historian, tells the true story of an American family through one heirloom: a sack that Rose, an enslaved woman, gave her young daughter Ashley in 1852, before Ashley was sold and sent away. The sack, which contained pecans, a dress and a braid of Rose’s hair, traveled through generations of the family, and Miles shows how its history is a “quiet assertion of the right to life, liberty and beauty even for those at the bottom.”

This new memoir, from the best-selling author of “The Death of Vivek Oji,” “Freshwater” and “Pet,” is structured as a series of letters to friends and loved ones, offering a glimpse of Emezi’s creative development and artistic worldview.

In this thriller, a British actress named Mia Eliot arrives in Los Angeles after a star turn in an adaptation of “Jane Eyre,” hoping to advance her career. Steadman, herself an actress who has appeared in “Downton Abbey,” is particularly acute when capturing the absurdities (and humiliations) of Hollywood, especially when Mia struggles to adapt. A young woman named Emily asks Mia for a favor, then vanishes — and no one else remembers ever seeing her.

This comprehensive history traces the decades-long fight for marriage equality, and makes a thought-provoking argument: If the religious right hadn’t seized on opposing same-sex marriage, it may never have become a dominant rights issue.

It’s 1618, and Katharina, an older widow in present-day Germany, has been accused of poisoning a woman in town. It’s a ludicrous claim: She can’t read or write or “even win at backgammon,” let alone carry out witchcraft. As her sympathetic neighbor and her children work to discredit the claims, her story becomes a broader — and often very funny — examination of the “destructive power of rumor.”

Fans of Taylor’s acclaimed debut novel, “Real Life,” will see similar themes in this collection of linked stories: the loneliness and self-doubt that academia can inspire, the difficulty to be vulnerable in relationships, the search for love and acceptance.

Many may know the myths of the Alamo, which “comprise the beating heart of Texas exceptionalism,” according to the authors of this new book. But the true history is a lot more complicated. The book sets out to restore some nuance and complexity to this historical period, putting a special focus on the role of Mexican-Americans — particularly Mexico’s efforts to abolish slavery.

Smith, a staff writer at The Atlantic, visited sites across the United States that grapple with — or try to hide from — the legacy of slavery, from the Angola prison in Louisiana to Blandford Cemetery in Virginia, where thousands of Confederate soldiers are buried. He shares sharp observations (about the mostly white tourists at Monticello, he writes how conspicuous it was “to see a plantation that has had its ratios reversed”) and draws on his own family history and lineage, including conversations with his grandparents. “I realized that, in an effort to dig into the archives that explain the history of this country,” he writes, “I had forgotten that the best primary sources are often sitting right next to us.”

The crises of 2020 exposed many of the country’s frailties, Packer says, and the United States is at an inflection point. “America is no longer a light unto the nations,” he writes. “It was always a role that made us appear better and worse than what we were. What do we see in the mirror now?” Rather than look at trends or figures, he distills four central narratives that are endemic to the country — such as “Real America” and “Smart America” — and uses them as frameworks to understand how it found itself at this crossroads.

It’s August 1983, and Malibu’s models, athletes and actors are preparing for the Riva family’s annual (and notorious) party. Nina, the eldest of four siblings and one of the most recognized surfer models of the moment, is hosting, despite a very public breakup. As the story ticks closer to the party itself, the novel loops back in time to the Riva children’s early years, which were overshadowed by their father, a well-meaning but absentee pop singer.

When John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth in February 1962, it was an achievement that helped alleviate a grim sense of inevitability: If the United States couldn’t compete with the Soviet Union’s space program, what hope was there? In this joint biography, Shesol, a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, dives into each man’s uncertainties about the endeavor, drawing from unpublished notes by Glenn, interviews and more.

McQuiston’s best-selling “Red, White & Royal Blue” followed the unlikely romance between the son of a U.S. president and a British prince, as they juggled their ambitions and society’s expectations. Now, the novelist tells the story of August, a recent Brooklyn transplant who becomes smitten with a stranger on the subway. Along with all the swoon of a new romance, there’s plenty of queer history woven throughout, particularly about post-Stonewall New York City.

If Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” were a workplace novel, it might resemble Harris’s debut, which follows Nella, a young Black employee at an overwhelmingly white publishing house. When Hazel, another Black woman, joins the company, Nella is optimistic: Now she might have a confidante and friend in a hostile office. But it soon becomes clear there’s something sinister afoot.

[ Read our profile of Harris. ]

Clinton and Patterson worked on an earlier political thriller, “The President Is Missing,that became a best seller. Now, they tell the story of a former president whose daughter is kidnapped, who must draw on all his experience — as a politician, Navy SEAL veteran and father — to secure her safety.

This memoir opens with an emotional letter from Ford’s father, who had been incarcerated for most of her life, writing to let her know he’d soon be released. The book grapples with this decades-long absence, and the hopes and expectations Ford placed on her father, but it’s equally the story of her relationship with her mother. Perhaps above all, it charts her path to thinking of herself not just a daughter, but as a woman in her own right.

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