Popular Contemporary Novels Worth the Hype

Popular contemporary novels worth the hype: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Almost Love by Louise O'Neill

I’m not that into reading contemporary novels, especially the over-hyped ones, but I am known to occasionally give into hype and the Internet was definitely on fire when in comes to these three books.

So here they are, the three popular contemporary novels worth the hype which you must read, all three unique and highly enjoyable reads.

  1. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  3. Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

Supernatural, Poetic and Disturbing

1. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Even though I read Sing, Unburied, Sing a while ago I still remember how I felt while reading it. It is a short novel but it delivers many painful punches. Leonie takes her two children on a road trip to meet the father of her children being released from prison.

This is also a story about being black and poor in the rural American South. It is about grandparents who are responsible for raising their grandchildren. About Leonie, a drug addict in love with a white man who is unable to raise her children. It is about Jojo, a thirteen year old boy who has to be a responsible adult. He is the father figure and parent to her baby sister because her mother is mostly absent and their father is incarcerated.

Sing, Unburied, Sing is a dark and beautiful ghost story about family, about being black in the American south. It is about grief, loss, abuse, brutality, race, injustice, addiction, and so much more.

Jesmyn Ward’s writing is described as epic. Reviewers call her ‘one of the most powerfully poetic writers in the country’ and I agree. If you’re into poetic writing you will enjoy this. For me, it was a bit too much at times. I think the story and the characters conveyed Ward’s message adequately making the overly poetic language was a bit excessive.

For more, check out my in depth review of the book here.

Meaningful, Layered and Powerful

2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The setting of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng reminded me of Pleasantville, the portrait of the American dream of living in the suburbs in beautiful fresh painted houses with white picket fences and manicured lawns. The family living here are like the Joneses, rich, powerful and perfect. Or are they?

The perfect life of the Richardsons is shaken by Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, who rent their house. The Warrens become more than tenants and disrupt the perfect bubble of the Richardson household with their progressive thinking and disregard of the rules that govern their small community.

Can small town rules and restrictions survive when exposed to a different set of thinking and freer, more open-minded lifestyle? Mia Warren is an artist and lives a nomadic life with her daughter Pearl. She is not the rebel of this story but a mother who despite the unusual lifestyle raises a great daughter.

At the opposite end we have Ms. Richardson who gave up her journalism dream to become a housewife. She lives her life by the book and likes to think of herself as one who gives back to the community. And Mia and Pearl are perfect examples of that, tenants who had a rough life and are in need of her deserving help.

The differences between the values and beliefs of these two families will be tested when the Richardson’s friends try to adopt an American-Chinese baby. A custody battle ensues which divides the town and puts Mia and Ms. Richardson on opposing sides.

I gave this book four stars on Goodreads and the more I think about it the more I like it. It has so many intricate layers and there is so much meaning packed into it. I highly recommend it.

Self-destruction, Obsession and Love

3. Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

The last of the popular contemporary novels I want to talk about today is Almost Love by Louse O’Neill. This is a story about love but it is as far away from romance as it gets. Almost Love is about the dark, obsessive and self-destructive side of love.

If Almost Love was a romance novel, our protagonist, Sarah, after some initial struggle would overcome her fears and pull her life together, both professionally and personally. She would realize her immense potential, recognize the people who care for her and want to help her and eradicate all bad influence from her life.

But Almost Love is not a romance novel and Sarah is our main unlikable character. She makes so many bad decision that at times I wanted to yell at her, and shake her out of her misery. I could not stand her! Especially, since she had so much good in her life. She just couldn’t see it! All she does is obsess about Matthew, a douche bag who treats her like dirt and only uses her for sex. And she fancies herself in love.

I picked this up because of all the hype on BookTube and I am happy I did even though there are so many things going wrong in Sarah’s head and I was so frustrated by her. I have not read many novels with unlikable main characters and for me these characters are like an acquired taste. I need to learn to appreciate them.

For another great book with an unlikable main character, check out my review of American War by Omar El-Akkad.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading these popular contemporary novels. They are definitely worth the hype.

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