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5 books not to miss: ‘Real Life’ by Brandon Taylor, new Charles Finch mystery ‘The Last Passenger’

“Real Life,” by Brandon Taylor.

In search of something good to read? USA TODAY’s Barbara VanDenburgh scopes out the shelves for this week’s hottest new book releases.

1. “Real Life,” by Brandon Taylor (Riverhead, fiction, on sale Feb. 18)

What it’s about: Wallace, an extremely introverted queer black graduate student from Alabama with a history of trauma, is a biochemistry student at a Midwestern university rife with racism and homophobia. Everything about him is at odds with his surroundings, and over the course of an intense weekend, things come to a head.

The buzz: “Taylor’s perceptive, challenging exploration of the many kinds of emotional costs will resonate with readers looking for complex characters and rich prose,” says Publishers Weekly.

2. “The Adventurer’s Son,” by Roman Dial (William Morrow, nonfiction, on sale Feb. 18)

What it’s about: On July 10, 2014, Cody Roman Dial, the 27-year-old son of Alaskan scientist and National Geographic Explorer Roman Dial, went alone into Corcovado National Park, a rainforest along Costa Rica’s remote Pacific Coast, and was never seen again. This book is the result of a father’s quest to unravel the mystery of his son’s disappearance.

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