The Best Debut Books of the Summer, According to Indie Booksellers

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Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

Every year, the American Booksellers Association puts together a team of booksellers from across the U.S. to pick the most exciting debut books of the year. They sort through the deluge of new titles out to find the gems that booksellers and readers need to know about. Breaking into the publishing industry as a debut author is difficult, and the Indies Introduce list helps to elevate these books.

The Indies Introduce list is split into Adult Debuts and Kids’ Debuts. Here are the Indies Introduce picks for the best adult debuts of Summer/Fall 2024. Most of these have been featured on Book Riot before, so I’ve included some of our coverage for each. For the books that haven’t been featured here, I’ve included booksellers’ blurbs from the ABA.

The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye book cover

The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye by Briony Cameron

“If you’re in the mood for an adventure this summer, this thrilling novel inspired by real events is a must-read. It explores the life and legendary feats of Jacquotte Delahaye, one of the only female captains during the age of piracy.

After fleeing her home in Santo Domingo, she takes to the seas and faces off against Blackbeard himself alongside fellow refugee Tessa, with whom she has an intimate bond.” — CJ Connor, The Best LGBTQ Beach Reads of 2024

cover of Swift River by Essie Chambers

Swift River by Essie Chambers

“In 1980, Diamond Newberry and her Pop are the only Black people in Swift River. That is, until he disappears. Seven years later, Diamond is trying to learn to drive since she and her mother have to hitchhike everywhere. And, since it’s been so long, Ma is now trying to declare Pop legally dead so she can get his life insurance money and the two can get their house back. Then a letter comes. It’s for Diamond, and it uncovers things about Pop that she never knew. She meets two generations of the Black women in her family and learns about all the joys and ills of the Newberry women, which helps her cement her own place in the world.” —Erica Ezeifedi, The Best Book Club Books Out in June

Cover of The Stars Too Fondly

The Stars Too Fondly by Emily Hamilton

“Hamilton’s sapphic space romance debut reveals what happens when following your dreams with your chosen family means confronting the disturbing realities of deep space. Cleo and her friends are queer twentysomething PhDs at the height of their respective fields finally pursuing their scheme to uncover what happened to the hundreds of people who disappeared 20 years ago at the Providence spaceship’s launch. But, when they sneak onboard, the dark matter engine starts on its own. Now they are stuck in space with an AI holographic replica of the ship’s old captain, Billie, who can’t remember what happened to her or her crew. If any of them want to survive the flight as things on board become progressively stranger, they will have to uncover what really happened all those years ago. Plus, Cleo has to try not to fall in love with the adorable hologram while they are at it.” —R. Nassor, The Best Books We Read April-June 2024

Zan cover

Zan: Stories by Suzi Ehtesham-Zadeh

“A beautiful and complex look at Iranian women and their struggles on the day-to-day, in their varied and full lives. With its poignant writing, this collection is moving and deep.” —Arden Harris, A Seat at the Table Books, Elk Grove, CA

cover of Masquerade by O.O. Sangoyomi

Masquerade by O.O. Sangoyomi

“This is a loose retelling of Persephone, set in 15th-century West Africa! Òdòdó is a member of a blacksmith guild, a group of outcasts in Timbuktu, who encounter problems when their land is conquered by a warrior king. Then things get even worse for Òdòdó when she is kidnapped by none other than the warrior king himself, who wants her as his bride. As Òdòdó adjusts to her new surroundings, she discovers she likes navigating the privilege and power her new life affords her. She must decide if (or more likely, when) she will make her move and break free from the warrior king.” —Liberty Hardy, 10 Exciting New SFF Books Out July 2024

cover of Midnight Rooms by Donyae Coles

Midnight Rooms by Donyae Coles

“This gothic horror novel is set in England in 1840. Orabella Mumthrope is the orphaned daughter of a white man and a Black woman. She has zero prospects and no connections, so when a wealthy man named Elias Blakersby appears and declares his interest in marrying her, Orabella is surprised. She allows him to sweep her away to his family estate, Korringhill Manor, but the home is nothing like what she expected. Everything is falling apart, and the servants seem nervous. What’s more, Orabella starts having strange nightmares.” —Emily Martin, New Horror Books That Will Have You Shaking in Your Sandals This July

cover of The Dallergut Dream Department Store by Miye Lee; illustration of a big blue building with brightly lit windows surrounded by clouds

The Dallergut Dream Department Store by Miye Lee, translated by Sandy Joosun Lee

“In a whimsical department store that exists in our collective consciousness, dreams are for sale. Each level hosts a different sort of dream, from nostalgic childhood memories to bucket-list travel. Following a cast of characters, including an enthusiastic new employee, a dream maker, a host of strange clientele, and Dallergut himself, The Dallergut Dream Department Store weaves a dreamy tale of magic that exists just outside the confines of ordinary life.” —Rachel Brittain, 2024 Cozy Fantasy Books You Won’t Want To Miss

cover of the truth according to ember

The Truth According to Ember by Danica Nava

“Ember has stretched the truth on her resume — both about her credentials and her ethnic background. Now she’s in a corporate job she loves, but that web of lies is still woven. When she meets the IT guy Danuwoa, they catch each other’s eye. But there’s a strict policy forbidding dating at her office. So the two of them date on the sly. Naturally, things are going to get out of hand. I love stories where fundamentally good people have to get themselves out of the messes they make! Read this, and you’ll realize that you, too, would risk it all for Danuwoa.” —Isabelle Popp, 10 Gems of STEM-themed Romance

Only Here, Only Now by Tom Newlands cover

Only Here, Only Now by Tom Newlands

“This debut is the thunderous announcement of a brilliant novelist. Tom Newlands gives us Cora Mowat, a teenage protagonist with undiagnosed ADHD, whose singular voice and humor are absolutely unforgettable. Like Derry Girls done by Dave Eggers, Only Here, Only Now is fiercely original, unabashedly Scottish, heartrendingly poignant, and hilarious to the point of tears. I can’t wait to see what Tom will come up with next.” —Steve Iwanski, Charter Books, Newport, RI

American Teenager cover

American Teenager: How Trans Kids Are Surviving Hate and Finding Joy in a Turbulent Era by Nico Lang

“Nico Lang provides needed insight into the lives of trans teens. Following eight trans and nonbinary teenagers, American Teenager shows us that there is no one way to look or be trans — or a teen. We also see that at their heart, these trans teens dream of what’s after high school, gossip, dread tests and class assignments, and try to figure out life.” —Kristin Saner, Fables Books, Goshen, IN

You can see the full list of Indies Introduce debuts, including all bookseller blurbs and the Kids’ Debut list, at the ABA website.

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.