How 3 More Big-Buzz 2020 Books Ultimately Fared

Another look back at the ups (and downs) experienced by a few widely promoted novels

Bookstore bookshelves full of books.
Bookstore bookshelves full of books.
Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash

In “How 3 Big-Buzz 2020 Books Ultimately Fared,” I covered a trio of titles mentioned in my January post, “The Certainly Most Definitive List of the 12 Best Novels Due Out in 2020.” Join me here and in two more posts as I strive to discover which, if any, of the original dozen titles have lived up to their hype.

(Please note this post includes affiliate links, and I may earn a little money if you click on a link and make a purchase. Thanks!)

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

Genre: Literary

Book cover for A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
Book cover for A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
Photo source: Goodreads

Originally published in Spanish in 2019, the latest from novelist Isabel Allende was published in English shortly after the start of 2020. While it has not been nominated for any rewards that I know of, it has been in the top 10 of the New York Times bestseller list and received rave reviews.

I’m eager to read every book by Isabel Allende and yet am hesitant to start for one simple reason: I’m convinced by the excerpts I’ve read of her work that she writes books I won’t want to put down. And she’s written many, many books. By my count, A Long Petal of the Sea is Allende’s twentieth novel, and she’s also the author of nonfiction works, including multiple memoirs. And while A Long Petal of the Sea has not racked up any awards this year, Allende is already an award-winning author many times over — as well as a Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient.

For an incredibly well-written, concise overview of the tale Allende tells in this beautiful book, read this review by Melanie Hilliard.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Genre: Literary

Cover of book Real Life by Brandon Taylor
Cover of book Real Life by Brandon Taylor
Photo source: Goodreads

It’s always exciting for me to see a debut author receive recognition for their work, especially when I follow the author on social media. Real Life by Brandon Taylor received many positive reviews when it was published earlier this year, and it was a New York Times Editors’ Choice that was also short-listed for the prestigious Booker Prize.

In pre-Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram days, hosting a blog was the best way to connect with readers and other writers online. For a dozen years beginning in August 2005, I wrote on my blog BEYOND Understanding about topics and resources related to diversity and discrimination, issues I also explored in my novel, One Sister’s Song. Taylor’s first work delves deeply into discrimination and much more, making it a must-read for me that revealed new aspects of the challenges BIPOC and other Americans face every day.

For more on the story of Real Life, read this unique, very honest review by Mark Broms.

These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card

Genre: Literary

Cover of book These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card
Cover of book These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card
Photo source: Goodreads

Books that provide insights into other cultures always intrigue me. Another debut novelist, Maisy Card, delivers just such a glimpse in These Ghosts are Family. Card’s novel was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and was shortlisted for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize.

Also the subject of many positive reviews, These Ghosts are Family has been described as inventive, captivating, and kaleidoscopic in its portrayal of a family in Jamaica and how its members cope with — and are dramatically impacted by — “racism, colorism, and infidelity” (Kirkus). Another one I look forward to reading!

I hope you enjoyed this overview! I’ll share another post soon on how three more titles from my original list have done this year. Meanwhile, happy reading!

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Karen DeGroot Carter

Written by

Bylines in Publishers Weekly, the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, others. One Sister’s Song (novel). Not Nearly Everything You Need to Know About Writing (ebook).

Books Are Our Superpower

Book reviews, recommendations, summaries, rants — as long as it is related to books, your piece is welcome here. We aim to build a community of book lovers sharing about the books that moved them the most.

Karen DeGroot Carter

Written by

Bylines in Publishers Weekly, the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, others. One Sister’s Song (novel). Not Nearly Everything You Need to Know About Writing (ebook).

Books Are Our Superpower

Book reviews, recommendations, summaries, rants — as long as it is related to books, your piece is welcome here. We aim to build a community of book lovers sharing about the books that moved them the most.

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