11 New Books to Read in 2022

We highlight 11 new highly anticipated books that center mothering themes.



1. The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander

One of TIME magazine's most anticipated books of the year and written by Pultizer prize-finalist Elizabeth Alexander, The Trayvon Generation is an expansion of Alexander's viral essay originally published in The New Yorker. Alexander focuses "a mother's eye" on the generation of her sons and students, who have been painfully aware, since childhood, of the violent deaths of too many Black people. This book promises to extend Alexander's initial essay with attention to both the past and the future, diving into American history to understand the present moment for race in America.


2. Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous was among the standout novels of 2019, and Time is a Mother stands to attract a similar amount of critical attention. Time is a Mother, Vuong's second collection of poetry, has been described as "deeply intimate." It centers on Vuong's experience of grief in the aftermath of his mother's death, "embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it." With these themes, Vuong's collection engages with the pain of a mother's absence, as well as the life that endures after she is gone.


3. Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Wilkerson's debut novel follows two estranged siblings, Byron and Benny, who reconnect at their mother's funeral. After her passing, the two must come together to both grapple with the loss and their mother's mysterious past, communicated to them through a puzzling inheritance. Black Cake spans several decades and countries, as it tracks the stories of Byron, Benny, and their mother. In the process, Black Cake's publisher asserts that Wilkerson considers "how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names, can shape relationships and history."


4. The Leaving by Jumi Bello

Sumatra's story is the heart of The Leaving. After a traumatic incident in her childhood and life characterized by a tendency to push those closest to her away, Sumatra unexpectedly becomes pregnant. This pregnancy, along with the decision to stop taking the medication for her dissociative disorder, leads Sumatra to revisit a troubled past. She reflects upon "moments of conflict, grief, and trauma" that spanned the globe, confronting the truths from which she had hidden. With The Leaving, Bello tackles difficult themes including mental illness and generational trauma, making it a critical read this year.


5. One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle