Wandering the Pages of Chicagoland

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Enjoy these selections of adult and teen fiction and graphic novels by local authors or that take place in the Chicago area.

  • Mount Chicago

    2022 by Levin, Adam

    In this unconventional and metafictional novel, a huge swath of downtown Chicago is swallowed up by a sinkhole. An acclaimed Jewish novelist who had a brief run as a stand-up comic and an obsessive fan who becomes a mayoral aide confront their losses. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • A Proposal They Can't Refuse

    2022 by Caña, Natalie

    The first in the Vega Family series follows a close-knit, fiercely loyal Puerto Rican family in Humboldt Park, Chicago, and their conniving, matchmaking abuelo who will stop at nothing to make sure his grandkids end up happy and loved. This steamy, critically acclaimed romance features Kamilah and Liam, who start a fake relationship to save their individual businesses. Publishers Weekly says this "delightful mix of food, familia, and culture will leave readers hungry for more." Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • On Rotation

    2022 by Obuobi, Shirlene

    In this engaging debut novel, we follow the life of Angie Appiah, a third-year Ghanaian American medical student in Chicago, as she navigates friendship, love, and the messiness of life while trying to make the best decisions for herself. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy

    2022 by Bishop, Jeff

    Illinois high school grad Cameron Garrity juggles a sports injury and a broken heart in this funny, fast-paced, coming-of-age story with a twist. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Cyclorama

    2022 by Langer, Adam

    A thought-provoking and compelling novel in which ten teenagers from a suburban high school north of Chicago are brought together by their production of The Diary of Anne Frank, which will shape and influence the rest of their lives. Booklist describes it as "smart, captivating, funny, appalling, and tender." Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Hollow Fires

    2022 by Ahmed, Samira

    Chicago high-school journalist and Indian American Safiya Mirza investigates the murder of Jawad Ali, an Iraqi refugee classmate, and is determined to find his killer(s) and hold them accountable. This suspenseful and fast-paced murder mystery a takes a sharp look at racism and Islamophobia in America. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Last Summer on State Street

    2022 by Wolfe, Toya

    This compelling and heart wrenching slice-of-life novel, set in the Robert Taylor Homes of Chicago during one life-changing summer in 1999, takes a close look at community, lives, and resilience. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • The Accidental Pinup

    2022 by Jackson, Danielle

    This heartwarming and steamy interracial romance features rival photographers who are forced to collaborate on a body-positive lingerie campaign. Along with a happily-ever-after ending, it also addresses important issues such as race, class, and sexism. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Everywhere You Don't Belong

    2020 by Bump, Gabriel

    This humorous and thought provoking debut told in vignettes follows Claude McKay Love, who is raised by a civil rights activist grandmother on the South Side of Chicago. Claude searches for a sense of belonging before a riot compels his departure for college, where he discovers he cannot escape his past. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Digging up Love

    2022 by Blumberg, Chandra

    Alisha has dreams of moving from her small town in Illinois to Chicago and opening a bakery, but she stays to help her grandparents run their BBQ restaurant. She's about to tell them of her plan when a pool project in the backyard digs up what might be a dinosaur fossil. Quentin is a paleontologist at a Chicago university and never imagined he would participate in a dig so close to home. Bakes, bones, and besottedness ensue. A sweet local romance. Suggested by Becca.

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  • Marrying the Ketchups

    2022 by Close, Jennifer

    A Chicagoland-based family story that centers around the restaurant they've owned for generations in Oak Park. I very rarely laugh out loud when reading, but this book pushed me over that edge. It isn't all comedy, though. It confronts the struggles of being a family as well as love--both new and lost. Suggested by Becca.

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  • The Hundred-Year House

    2014 by Makkai, Rebecca

    This book starts in 1999 and winds its way back to 1900 within the walls of an artist colony turned private residence. Why the change? Because you can't go one hundred years without a few hidden secrets that affect generations to come. It is a story with a fabulous sense of place (and place as character). Suggested by Becca.

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  • The Talented Miss Farwell

    2020 by Tedrowe, Emily Gray

    Becky Farwell leads two lives. One as the comptroller for the rural town of Pierson, Illinois, and one as Reba, a renowned art collector and dealer in New York City. How can she live in the expensive and fast-paced art world on a rural comptroller's salary? Well, she can't. But she controls the books and is slowly building a house of cards that could tumble at any moment. Suggested by Becca.

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  • The Kindest Lie

    2021 by Johnson, Nancy

    Johnson tackles racism and class in the rural and urban landscapes of the Midwest. Set right after the historic election of President Obama in 2008, The Kindest Lie follows Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy League-educated engineer living in Chicago who returns to her poverty-stricken hometown in Indiana to discover the truth about her adopted son. However, Ruth unearths family secrets that cause her to question her identity and the painful cost of upward mobility. Suggested by Michelle.

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  • Arsenic and Adobo

    2021 by Manansala, Mia P.

    Lila Macapagal needs to clear her family's name when a food blogger (who happens to be her ex) dies while eating at her family's restaurant in fictional Shady Palms, IL. This series is a favorite among our staff. It's a fun, cozy mystery with humor, a bit of romance, and plenty of delicious food. Don't read this one on an empty stomach! Suggested by Becca.

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  • Ironheart

    2019 by Ewing, Eve L.

    Riri Williams made her first appearance in the Marvel universe in The Invincible Iron Man in 2016. Born on the South Side of Chicago and citing Tony Stark as a role model, Riri uses her intellect and love of tinkering to reverse engineer Tony Stark's suit, adding her own modifications, and becoming a hero in her own right! Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • The Man Who Lived Underground

    2021 by Wright, Richard

    This unpublished work was initially rejected by Wright's publisher in 1942, shortly after the release of his masterpiece Native Son. This compelling, gritty, and powerful novel centers on Fred Daniels, a Black man who is picked up randomly by the police after a brutal murder in a Chicago neighborhood and taken to the local precinct, where he is tortured until he confesses to a crime he didn't commit. After signing a confession, he escapes from the precinct and takes up residence in the sewers below the streets of Chicago. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

    2017 by Sánchez, Erika L.

    A candid and gritty coming-of-age novel in which Chicago teen Julia Reyes is trying to navigate two different worlds while also trying to follow her own path and dreams. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

    2016 by Ferris, Emil

    This critically acclaimed, award-winning graphic novel portrays a young girl named Karen Reyes investigating the death of her neighbor in 1960's Chicago. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

    2000 by Ware, Chris

    Ware is one of the great innovators of the comics medium, his works both astonishingly inventive and heartbreakingly grounded in something true. And Ware loves to set his narratives in Chicago, the city serving as another woebegone character, its architecture rendered with a kind of specificity that has you pausing more than once to take it all in. Suggested by Chris.

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  • The City Beautiful

    2021 by Polydoros, Aden

    Chicago, 1893: The dybbuk destroying Alter Rosen from within may be the only way to stop a killer of Jewish boys. In desperation, he confides in his best friend Raizel and the dangerous, alluring Frankie Portnoy. The lore of Eastern European Judaism and the nightmares that followed immigrants to America. Winner of the 2022 Sidney Taylor Book Award. Suggested by Andrew.

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