Every year thousands of our readers vote for their favorite books of the year in the She Reads Awards. Find out more about the books that were nominated and see which book was voted the Best Debut of 2022.

The winner of the Best Debut of 2022 is . . .

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Over six summers, Persephone Fraser and Sam Florek slowly fell in love and had a bond that was inseparable. When Persephone makes a mistake that causes their relationship to end, she leaves her home of Barry’s Bay behind. Percy becomes a city girl and takes on a new life. But when she receives news that Sam’s mom has died, she knows she must finally make her way back to Barry’s Bay to pay her respects. When she meets Sam again, it’s undeniable that they still have a connection. But can they forget the mistakes of their past and forge a future together, or are they simply being nostalgic, falling once again under the spell of summer?

The nominees for Best Debut of 2022 are:

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

When she was just twelve years old, Chloe Davis’s world was shattered when her father confessed to the disappearances of six teenage girls who have went missing in their small town. Twenty years later, Chloe is now a psychologist about to get married when local teenage girls begin to go missing. Was her father really guilty or is there a second killer out there who has been dormant this whole time?

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews

Sneha is a queer Indian immigrant navigating that ambiguous gap between college graduation and figuring out what comes next. After moving to Milwaukee for an entry-level job, Sneha makes new friends, starts dating women, and plans to send money to her parents back in India. But when painful secrets are exposed, jobs are jeopardized and evictions loom. Sneha struggles to open up to her new friends and even to Marina, the beautiful dancer she’s been dating. That’s when her friend Tig comes up with a solution that might solve all their problems. Elegant and unforgettable, All This Could Be Different is a poignant story of friendship, community, and belonging.

Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

PhD student Ingrid Yang is ready to finish her dissertation on the late poet Xiao-Wen Chou and never read about Chinese literature again. But after stumbling upon a peculiar note in the Chou archives, Ingrid is launched into a world beyond her sheltered academic life. Along with her friend Eunice, Ingrid embarks on a wild adventure to decipher the note’s message – an adventure that changes Ingrid and forces her to question her relationship with white men, with white institutions, and most importantly, with herself.

Jackal by Erin E. Adams

When Liz Rocher returns to Johnstown, Pennsylvania for her best friend’s wedding, she braces herself for the bad memories and awkward reunions. But what she doesn’t expect is for the happy couple’s daughter to go missing during the celebration. A search begins for Caroline, and as the police scour the woods, Liz gets a strong feeling of déjà vu. Kisha Woodson, another Black girl from Liz’s high school, walked into this forest with a strange man and was later found dead with her heart removed from her body. As Liz investigates Johnstown’s history, she discovers that young Black girls have been going missing in these same woods for years. Now she must unearth who is responsible, and find Caroline before it’s too late.

Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe

In Chicago, 1999, Felicia “Fe Fe” Stevens is living in a building that is next in line to be demolished by the Chicago Housing Authority. She forms friendships with two other neighborhood girls, and for a brief moment in time, their trio provides her with a sense of stability and faith. Until Fe Fe meets Tonya, who upsets the dynamic of the group and changes the lives of all four girls. While their neighborhood crumbles, so do their friendships and family structures. Years later, Fe Fe recounts the summer that changed everything and tries to reclaim the love that never faded. A powerful story about forming friendships, reclaiming one’s past, and finding a place to call home.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Set in 1960s America, this is a story about a woman who breaks the mold and becomes a nation-wide inspiration for women and girls everywhere. Elizabeth Zott is a scientist at Hastings Research Institute, where she meets and falls in love with the exceptional Calvin Evans. Refusing to live in his shadow, Elizabeth works hard to make her own discoveries that will revolutionize the science world. But when life rearranges the plans she made for her future, Elizabeth finds herself the host of a new cooking show, Supper at Six. As her show becomes more popular, Elizabeth encounters opposition from those who fear her powerful influence. Because Elizabeth isn’t only teaching women to cook—she’s teaching them to break barriers.

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley

In an East Oakland apartment, siblings Kiara and Marcus are barely getting by. After multiple family tragedies, both of them dropped out of high school. Kiara looks for work, hoping to pay rent and keep the abandoned nine-year-old boy next door fed, while Marcus pursues a career in the music industry. But one night, a drunken encounter with a stranger leaves Kiara with a job opportunity she never expected or wanted. A job nightcrawling. Not long after taking on her new role does Kiara find herself involved in a shocking scandal within the Oakland Police Department. When Kiara is exposed as the key witness, everything changes.

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo is a popular congressman representing the gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga, his sister, is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers. Their lives are alluringly public, but it isn’t until Olga meets Matteo that she must face the long-held secrets of her family. Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord-turned-radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives. Set in 2017, painted across New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, this story confronts political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream, all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.

Perish by Latoya Watkins

This intergenerational story about a Black Texan family explores the effects of inherited trauma and violence. Everyone gathers to say their goodbyes to Helen Jean, the family’s matriarch, as she’s on her deathbed. Her choices have had effects across generations, from her children to her grandchildren and beyond, and this novel examines those ripples through alternating chapters from four members of the family.

Sign Here by Claudia Lux

Peyote Trip works in Hell. Literally. He’s got a solid job in the deals department on the fifth floor where the pens are out of ink and the coffee machine doesn’t work. When presented with the opportunity for a promotion, Peyote jumps. All he needs is one more member of the wealthy Harrison family to sell their soul. With the help of his co-worker Calamity, Peyote forms a plan. Meanwhile at the Harrisons’ family lake house, secrets are revealed, darkness is exposed, and new dangers arise. Will Peyote be able to land the promotion of his dreams, or will he be forced to endure life on the fifth floor forever?

When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley

After learning that his girlfriend committed suicide, Min can’t reconcile the happy, ambitious girl he knew with the one the police are saying ended her own life. When Min met Yu-jin after moving to Seoul from California, she was successful, content, and had big plans for her future. Devastated and desperate to figure out what happened, Min decides to investigate Yu-jin’s life and discovers that it was far more complex than she revealed. Yu-jin’s story blends with Min’s to create a gripping exploration of cultural identity, family ties, self-discovery, and belonging.