Rhody Reads: Spring Picks by Reading With Robin

Get the scoop on Ann Hood’s latest book, debut novels, and events including one with Elin Hilderbrand


The lovely month of May has arrived and it’s not just the buds that are in bloom! Spring books are appearing in all their glorious splendor. As a #bookfluencer, sharing the books I’m excited about is almost as much fun as reading them. This roundup includes something for everyone, from novels and debuts to young adult, memoir, and non-fiction.

I tore through an early copy of Ann Hood’s latest novel, The Stolen Child, last summer and the story has stayed with me. Available on May 7, this un-put-downable novel is set in 1970s Rhode Island and France during World War I. An unlikely duo of cantankerous Nick and college dropout Jenny set out on a journey that takes them to France and Italy to solve a haunting mystery before Nick is out of time.

If You Can’t Take the Heat is the first YA novel by Hood’s husband Michael Ruhlman, a James Beard-award winning author. Available June 18, this coming-of-age story set in 1980s Cleveland is about high school football star Theo Claverback, who finds himself sidelined after a broken leg, quickly followed by a broken heart. Forced to pivot after his college plans are thwarted, Theo finds himself as a prep cook in an upscale French restaurant.

Just in time for the luscious summer reads we dream about all year is Pink Whales (June 4). Debut novelist and RI resident Sara Shukla has written a touching and fun zinger of a book. Charlie is already feeling disconnected when she and her family relocate to a coastal New England town; enter the power moms, mix in adult beverages, and settle in for a story that takes a sharp turn when you least expect it.

Adrienne Brodeur’s novel Little Monsters was one of my favorite summer ‘23 books, and I’m thrilled to share it again as it becomes available in paperback May 7. This story has memorable characters, dysfunctional family dynamics, a gorgeous Cape Cod setting, and mysterious happenings. Ken and Abby Gardner’s mother died when they were young and they were raised by their father, the brilliant oceanographer, Adam. The siblings’ relationship continues to unfold as adults and the complications become more apparent. If you haven’t read Brodeur’s memoir, Wild Game, add it to your list.

Another debut out now is The French Ingredient: Making a Life in Paris One Lesson at a Time. In her memoir, Jane Bertch shares the story of how she went from an American banker transferred to Paris – with a lingering grudge against the city from a graduation trip 10 years earlier – to embracing the “City of Light” and deciding to open the cooking school, La Cuisine Paris. I had the pleasure of taking a pastry class last May and I can still smell the butter!

When Women Ran Fifth Avenue: Glamour and Power at the Dawn of American Fashion by Julie Satow hits the shelves on June 4. The journalist/author expertly weaves together the stories of three dynamic trailblazers instrumental in directing the course of the department stores we came to know and love (and now miss): Hortense Odlum of Bonwit Teller, Dorothy Shaver of Lord & Taylor, and Geraldine Stutz of Henri Bendel.



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