The cover for The Waters by Bonnie Jo Campbell

The Waters by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Hermine ‘Herself’ Zook is part of a long line of herbalists living on a small island in the Michigan Wetlands. While her parenting ability is questionable, proven by her three estranged daughters, her skill as a healer is sought far and wide by women needing her services. Hermine’s granddaughter, Donkey, is the only other person living on the island. At eleven years old, she is left mostly to do as she pleases, which is generally to study math and the animals on the island. With an absent mother and secrets surrounding the identity of her father, Donkey just wishes for a normal family. 

The family dynamics and intriguing characters are key to Campbell’s latest work. Her knowledge of the wetlands of Michigan also shines through in her thought provoking story. 

The cover for The Storm we Made by Vanessa Chan

The Storm we Made by Vanessa Chan

In 1934, Cecily became a spy. In 1945, Cecily’s three children are at the mercy of the Japanese: one is being tortured at a labor camp, one is working at a teahouse serving rude soldiers, and one is in hiding so she does not have to become a comfort girl. Told from alternating timelines, the 1934 Cecily — dissatisfied with the British occupation of her home Country of Malaya — begins to spy for the Japanese after meeting a general who convinced her that Asia should be for Asians. Under the rule of the Japanese in 1945, Cecily discovers how dreadful her decisions were. 

In Chan’s author notes, she reveals that most of her family who survived the war will not discuss their lives under Japanese rule during the war. In The Storm we Made, Chan takes the opportunity to tell their stories.  

The cover for Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

In 1985, Anita de Monte plummeted to her death from the 33-story apartment in New York she shared with her artist husband Jack Martin. As an award-winning Cuban artist, her death was the talk of the town. Until it wasn’t. By 1998, when art history student Raquel Toro begins work on her senior thesis on Jack Martin, Anita de Monte is lost to history. As Toro digs deeper into Martin’s life, she discovers Anita de Monte and is disconcerted by how closely her own life mirrors that of Anita. Raquel is romantically involved with another student who has connections to the New York art world and who frequently downplays her involvement in the arts. Raquel tries to uncover the reasons for Anita’s death while also confronting the Eurocentric conceptions of beauty in the art world. Who gets to be remembered and who gets forgotten? 

The cover for The Teacher by Freida McFadden

The Teacher by Freida McFadden

McFadden burst on the scene with compelling psychological thrillers and The Teacher is no different. Eve is a math teacher at the local high school and her very handsome husband, Nate, teaches English at the same school. Addie is a student who was involved in an explosive scandalous affair with a teacher the year before, causing the teacher to quit. Addie has now been assigned to Eve’s class and her husbands’ class. When Addie seems to be getting a little too close to Nate and Eve finds her lurking outside her house, Eve starts to worry that there is more than a student-teacher relationship between Addie and her husband. 

As with McFadden’s other novels, nothing is as it seems, and if you think you know what’s going to happen, you’re wrong. 

Other women leads written by women authors you may enjoy include: 

  • No One Can Know by Kate Alice Marshall
  • The Divorcees by Rowan Baird
  • First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

Sarah Johnson is a collection librarian at Mid-Columbia Libraries. She reads more than 120 books a year. In her free time, she teaches fitness classes, gardens, and brews kombucha.