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April may be best known for its showers, but it’s also an incredible month for new books. From a stunning novel of cultural identity and belonging to hilarious essay collections about the indignities of middle age, here are 13 books we can’t wait to dive into this month.

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1. Hello, Molly: A Memoir by Molly Shannon

To fans of SNL, The Other Two and a host of other programs, Molly Shannon is unshakeably delightful. Behind the scenes, though, the actress’s life has been less than charmed. At age four, Shannon lost her mother, baby sister and cousin in a car accident with her father at the wheel. Raised by her grieving father, she developed her gift for improvising and role-playing before venturing to New York City and Los Angeles to make a name for herself. Documenting her rise to stardom, Hello, Molly is jam-packed with behind-the-scenes stories as well as candid meditations on grief and resilience.

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2. When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley

When the Seoul police inform Min that his girlfriend Yu-jin has committed suicide, he's sure it can't be true—she was successful, ambitious and happy. Min, on the other hand, has never felt quite the same certainty about his life's path. Born to an American father and Korean mother in California, he never felt like he truly belonged to either culture. When he moves to Seoul to explore his Korean heritage, he meets Yu-jin, not knowing that their carefree relationship will set off a chain of events with tragic consequences for both. Devastated by her death, Min becomes obsessed with finding out why she could have secretly wanted to die, and the subsequent investigation into her life poses powerful questions about cultural identity, family bonds, secrets and what it means to belong.

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3. Heartbroke by Chelsea Bieker

Each of the 11 stories in Bieker’s second book (after Godshot) features a narrator who’s naïve, dealing with poverty and trying to make a life for themselves in central California. In “Lyra,” a brothel madam hosts a young academic writing a dissertation about sex work and a long-ago crime. In “Cowboys and Angels,” a naive phone sex operator falls for a con man. And in the title story, a grieving mother writes (but doesn’t send) letters to her young gay son. The stories are, as the title implies, heartbreaking, but Bieker’s compassion for her characters will keep your eyes glued to the page.

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4. Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

In Montgomery, Alabama in the early ‘70s, Civil Townsend is fresh out of nursing school and hoping to make a difference—especially in her predominantly Black community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies, but she's met with resistance by her white supervisors, who have taken to performing involuntary sterilizations on young Black women. Inspired by true events, Take My Hand is an exploration of accountability, redemption and the people and stories that refuse to be forgotten.

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5. I’ll Show Myself Out by Jessi Klein

Klein’s 2017 memoir, You’ll Grow Out of It, explored her thoughts on what it meant to be a 21st century woman. In the comedy writer’s new essay collection, she debunks the cultural myths and impossible expectations around motherhood and explores the humiliations, poignancies and possibilities of midlife in essays like "Listening to Beyoncé in the Parking Lot of Party City," "Your Husband Will Remarry Five Minutes After You Die" and "An Open Love Letter to Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent."

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6. Sedating Elaine by Dawn Winter

In this dark comedy, Frances, a a restaurant worker in London, is drowning her sorrows at a bar after a tough breakup when she meets the needy but well-meaning Elaine, and the two end up sleeping together. Faced with mounting pressure from her drug dealer, Frances asks Elaine to move in with her so she can use Elaine’s rent money to pay off her debt. Unfortunately, this seemingly romantic overture makes Elaine even more sex-crazed and head-over-heels in love. Frances fears she may never escape the relationship, so she decides to sedate Elaine…just until the debt is paid, at which point Frances can end the relationship. The plan, as you might imagine, goes horribly awry, and forces Frances to consider her past relationships in a new light.

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7. Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

Twenty-something writer Chani Horowitz feels stuck churning out puff pieces when she's hired to write a profile of movie star Gabe Parker—her number one celebrity crush and the latest James Bond. And little does she know, the interview will turn into a whirlwind weekend that has the tabloids buzzing. Cut to ten years later: After a brutal divorce and lots of therapy, Chani is back in L.A. as a successful writer when Gabe’s PR team requests that they reunite for a second interview. She wants to say no, but she also wants to know if those 72 hours were as memorable to Gabe as they were to her…

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8. Happy for You by Claire Stanford

Four years into writing her still-unfinished philosophy dissertation, and anticipating a marriage proposal from her long-term boyfriend, Evelyn is wrestling with big questions about life: How can she do meaningful work in the world? Is she ready for marriage and motherhood? Swallowing her doubts, Evelyn makes a leap, leaving academia for a job as a researcher at a popular internet company, where her team is tasked with developing an app that will help users quantify and augment their happiness. As a biracial person, an Asian American and someone who doesn't know how to perform social media's vision of womanhood, she struggles to belong. But as her misgivings mount, Evelyn embarks on a journey toward an authentic happiness all her own.

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9. The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monáe

Singer, actress and activist Janelle Monáe’s third studio album, Dirty Computer, was released in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim. The Grammy-nominated album introduced a world in which thoughts could be controlled or erased by a select few. In this collection of stories, Monáe—along with some of her closest collaborators—expands upon the Afrofuturistic world of the album, exploring time and memory, queerness, race, gender plurality, love and freedom.

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10. Start Without Me by Gary Janetti

Gary Janetti is a TV writer who’s widely known for his Instagram account, on which he posts funny (read: savage) memes about the royal family. In this essay collection, he explores the moments in his life that have defined him, from the summers he spent in his twenties pursuing the perfect tan and the perfect man to his unlikely friendship in high school with a nun who shared his love of soap operas.

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11. Arrival Stories: Women Share Their Experiences of Becoming Mothers edited by Amy Schumer and Christy Turlington Burns

In this collection of essays, a wide range of women—actors, athletes, academics, CEOs, writers, physicians and activists—share their experiences of becoming mothers—the good, the bad and the ugly. Touching on 30-plus hour labors, unexpected c-sections and the grave injustices that women of color face in maternal healthcare, these stories are multifaceted, moving and revealing.

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12. Fruit Punch: A Memoir by Kendra Allen

Growing up in Dallas, Texas, in the ‘90s and early 2000s, Allen had a loving but complicated family life. In the world of her great uncle's Southern Baptist church, rules included "No uncrossed ankles" and "No questions." Her powerful memoir touches on everything from questions of beauty and how we form concepts of ourselves to what it means to grow up a young Black woman in the South. A gripping read for fans of Kiese Laymon and Jesmyn Ward.

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13. Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

Vuong’s highly anticipated poetry collection (after 2019’s best-selling On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous) finds the author trying to make sense of life after his mother's death—sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. In 27 daring and tender poems, Vuong writes of traumas both personal and generational. We dare you not to get teary-eyed.

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