Now that I've finally devoured Chris Cleave's terrific novel Little Bee, I can't quite believe it took me this long. This is the book they invented the word "unforgettable" to describe. Too much more description would rob readers of the book's many pleasures and horrors, but I will tell you this: There are two narrators, both women, one Nigerian and one British. They are fascinating, flawed characters. You'll be pulled into the story immediately; put aside some time to devote to it, because you won't want to stop reading it. (I just found a story that reports Nicole Kidman is going to star in a film version of the book. Not sure how I feel about that.)
After I finished the book I bought a copy of Cleave's first novel, Incendiary (at the indie bookstore Changing Hands in Tempe, Arizona), which was equally urgent and timely, though overall Little Bee is much more polished and compelling. This unrelentingly bleak epistolary novel gets under your skin, too, as a grieving victim of a London bombing shares her story with Osama bin Laden. Not for anyone who needs an uplifting fictional ride.
For uplift, I turned to Marilynne Robinson's Home, her sequel (or perhaps companion is a better word) to the prize-winning Gilead. The action - such as it is - takes place at the same time as the action in Gilead, in a different Iowa household and harkens back to the story of the prodigal son. I preferred Gilead, but Home left me in tears, too.
And because I was traveling, I took along Lee Child's thriller 61 Hours for the plane. As expected, it's a wild ride from beginning to end (especially end). I'm not sure anybody gives you the pure adrenaline quite as well as Child does.