Checking Out Some “River City Reads” | River City Live

1. The Fortunate Once by Ed Tarkington, Pub Date: January 5

The Fortunate Ones was one of those books I plowed through in just a few days. Author Ed Tarkington immerses the reader into the world of central character Charlie Boykin, a young man who lives in a low-income area of east Nashville with his single, cocktail-waitress mother, a former debutante who fled her wealthy upbringing when she got pregnant with Charlie and her family tried to force her to give him up.

Charlie is perfectly happy with his life especially the African American neighbors who take him in as one of their own. Everything changes, though, when Charlie’s mom secures a scholarship for him to attend a prestigious prep school, a school full old money Southerners, future senators and CEOs-in-the-making.

2. Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour, Pub Date: January 5

You know how when you’re reading a book, the story is so vivid and engaging you just KNOW some exec at Netflix or HBO will snatch it up and turn it into a series or movie? Black Buck was totally one of those books for me. It’s the story of Darren, a smart young African American man who lives with his loving Mom, who sees her class valedictorian son squandering his career potential. He’s perfectly content to manage a Manhattan Starbucks (though he personally eschews coffee) until an encounter with one of his corporate regulars changes the course of his career, and ultimately - who he is as a person.

3. The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, Pub Date: January 5

In the first adult novel by YA novelist Rachel Hawkins, readers are taken along on psychological thriller journey. This one is for fans of Gone Girl or The Woman in the Window, and instead of the big twist coming at the end, the reader gets the big twist right at the start, and knowing the “twist” makes the story even more suspenseful.

ONE TO WATCH: MILK BLOOD HEAT by Dantiel Moniz, Pub Date: February 2

A livewire debut from Dantiel W. Moniz, one of the most exciting discoveries in today’s literary landscape, Milk Blood Heat depicts the sultry lives of Floridians in intergenerational tales that contemplate human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the elemental darkness in us all. Set among the cities and suburbs of Florida, each story delves into the ordinary worlds of young girls, women, and men who find themselves confronted by extraordinary moments of violent personal reckoning. This book would be gorgeous no matter where the setting, but the Florida – mostly Jacksonville setting makes it a particular delight for us here – features landmarks like MOSH, etc.

For more on books to read this year, visit