Friday, December 14, 2012

Best Books of 2012: Fiction

I love a good suspense story... one of those where you have to keep turning the page. Although character development is also a must for a book to be considered an all-time favorite, this year I was more drawn toward reading engaging plots. Not that the following books don't have character development; it's just that their plots are what is most captivating.

I also enjoy historical fiction, which you'll see elements of throughout this book selection. Another common theme in all of these books? Family secrets. Can't get much more suspenseful than that!

Without further ado, here are the best fiction books I read this year:

Sarah's Key
By now you've probably heard of this book since it was made into movie. And I highly recommend the movie. But first, read the book! (Or if you've already seen the movie, still read the book!) This book takes place in Paris and alternates between present day and July 1942, the time of the French Vel' d'Hiv roundup in World War II. On the Vel' d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, a journalist writes an article about this day, and through her investigation begins to unravel her own family secrets. Author Tatiana de Rosnay brilliantly connects Sarah, a ten year-old girl sent to Auschwitz, with Julia, a reporter of today, and weaves their stories together. We are all products of our past...

This is the book that my friend Leah and I synchro-read together, so I've already written this review on it. To recap, it is about a woman, Emily, who escapes a broken heart by visiting her beloved great-aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island in the Pacific northwest. Emily discovers a journal, which sparks questions about her family and several surprises. As family secrets are uncovered, author Sarah Jio writes so that you want to get to bottom of things just as much as Emily does.

It's perhaps a little risky to include this on my top books already because I still have 15% left to read (it's obviously on my Kindle!). However, it has been such an enthralling book so far that no matter how it ends, it is worth a read. 

This is another book that combines family mysteries with historical fiction, and its plot spans generations of families. The main character, Laurel, witnessed her mother commit a crime when she was a teenager, and fifty years later digs into the past while her mother is on her death bed. The genius of author Kate Morton's plot is that the story takes you from pre-World War II England, through the blitz, to the 60s and then present day. Meanwhile, it weaves together three separate families, telling the story from varying perspectives. At each new character, my sentiments change regarding who deserves my sympathies, making you uncertain of the truth. Morton also includes dramatic irony as you begin to know answers to questions that protagonist Laurel is still searching for. To quote the Amazon review, "The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring."

This book explores the racism, violence, and conflict in Seattle when Japanese families were sent to internment camps during World War II. Yet amidst the chaos, author Henry Lee uses a friendship between Henry, a Chinese American student, and Keiko, a Japanese American student, to show that hope, friendship, and commitment are powerful forces, even during wartime. This historical fiction novel explores the story of Henry from present day back to the 1940s. Throughout the book, Henry seeks to come to terms with his father's nationalism while searching for an object that will reconnect him with Keiko, recalling memories of her family being sent to the internment camps. 


  1. Sarah's Key and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet have both been on my to-read list for I'm even more excited to get to them eventually!