This month in BookTrib, we are celebrating women’s fiction titles that showcase neurodivergent characters. Everyone’s brain is unique. It’s estimated that as many as one in five individuals exhibit characteristics of neurodivergence. This is your opportunity to help shine a light on conditions such as epilepsy, autism, dyslexia, ADHD, OCD, and others by sharing the journey of your main or secondary character(s) living with neurodivergence.
The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig
A fiction debut from an award-winning cookbook author that will leave you wanting seconds.
Claire “Neely” O’Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can “taste” feelings — cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss.
Maybe that’s why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she’s always dreamed of — and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told.
Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.
Community Klepto by Kelly L. Hitchcock
Set in suburban Kansas City in the early 2010s, Community Klepto — a droll combination of Bridget Jones’ Diary and Choke — makes incarnate the characters and shenanigans that go on in every gym in the world.
Ann Josephson is a 25-year-old sociopath whose compulsive kleptomania manifests itself in the most unlikely of places: the community center where she works out every day. The walls there insulate her from the terrors of the outside world — her freelance work as a graphic artist; her socialite parents, who pay the better part of her living expenses, her therapist, who devotedly punches the clock; and the dark void of romantic relationships.
As Ann battles the inner demons that plague her millennial psyche, she must also battle the fiends that plague her at the gym: the loudly grunting beefcake who can’t be bothered to drop his weights at a reasonable volume, the naked old lady in the locker room using a towel as butt floss, the housewife in yoga pants who obviates the need for yoga wheeling her double stroller up and down the indoor. track.
The Santa Games by Leanne Treese
Reeling from a broken engagement, Andi Carter swears off men. She quits her job in New York and returns home to figure out next steps. Luckily, she quickly finds a job — one that will take her mind off her ex — as a caretaker for an elderly widower, Liam Quinn. Liam is the owner of Christmastown, a holiday-themed amusement park that shut down years ago. But he’s anxious to reopen it, and Andi, loving the concept, throws herself into helping him. It’s the perfect distraction. Bonus: there are no eligible men for miles.
Until Matt Taylor shows up to audit the park.
Matt is handsome, charming, and full of surprises. Even Liam’s notoriously cranky cat, Claus, likes him. Andi works with Matt on a Christmastown project and platonic feelings turn into a full-fledged crush…maybe a little more. She likes this guy. Unbelievably, Matt seems to like her back. Only she soon discovers that Matt isn’t who he says he is and is struggling with ADHD. So now, Andi has another decision to make— run away and start over — again? Or stay, and hear Matt out? After all, Christmas is the season of miracles.
Owl in the Oak Tree by Penny Walker Veraar
She’s the key witness to a drive-by shooting. But what happens when her duty to justice threatens the most important thing in her world—her family?
Reagan Ramsey — mother and middle school teacher extraordinaire — knows how to hold it together in the face of adversity. In the aftermath of her husband’s death from cancer, Reagan is doing everything she can to help her two children process their father’s passing while trying to sort out what a ‘new normal’ looks like for their family. The loss proves especially difficult for her seven-year-old daughter, Lizzie, who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism and is nonverbal. Lizzie’s father had been her protector, a hands-on parent since the day she was born, and in his absence, her behavior becomes increasingly challenging as she struggles to express her feelings of loss and confusion.
But when a random encounter puts Reagan in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting — an event that shakes the foundation of her community — she suddenly becomes an involuntary key witness to a murder that turns her world, and her sense of safety, upside down. Trapped between protecting her family and helping to bring the killer to justice, Reagan’s sense of right and wrong is tested like never before. As fear and shame threaten to break Reagan, she must learn to rely on her own conscience and her community for the strength to put her life on the line for those she loves. A piercing examination of how grief and gun violence reshape families and communities, Owl in the Oak Tree is a suspenseful story of love and redemption.
The Cottage at the Inn in Rhode Island by Judy Prescott Marshall
Julie and Dan Holliday are building their dream home – a farmhouse in Julie’s favorite harborside – Point Judith, Rhode Island. Finally, after thirty years, the Hollidays are going on their honeymoon. In Italy, they meet a retired librarian, Carmela, who thinks she inherited a small villa in Umbria. She is confused, unsure, and wondering if she made the right decision in the first place, but then she meets Julie and discovers hope.
After spending three glorious weeks in Italy, sightseeing, eating mouth-watering meals and making passionate love, Dan and Julie are happier than they have ever been. Until they arrive back home, and discover one of them has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease that results in encephalophagy affecting brain functioning. Everyone must come together to combat this silent killer before it is too late.
A Million Ways: Stories of Motherhood by Gina Andrew
Mothers are as varied and unique as fingerprints. The 12 stories in this new collection of women’s fiction run the scale of human emotions from the triumph of a contemporary mother carving her own path to the heartbreak of a Depression-era woman’s sacrifices. It includes a story, “Everything Left Unsaid,” about a mother’s difficulty communicating with her daughter, a nonverbal autistic girl, along with her memories of the communication gap she had with her own mother. Through an old recipe box and a cake recipe, she begins to see that love goes beyond words.
The stories may enrage you, or make you weep or laugh — or miss your mom — but you may also find a mirror for your own experiences. In “Everything Left Unsaid,” the mom of a nonverbal autistic girl follows a family recipe and discovers that love can be expressed in a multitude of ways.