Feature Image Credit: @jena.reads

Our guest editor, Alison Hammer, has been a favorite amongst readers everywhere since her debut release of You And Me And Us in 2020. With her latest release, Little Pieces of Me, we interviewed Allison about how to make a dual timeline work and what books influence her. And below, we’re ecstatic to hear which books inspired her own writing journey. Read on to see her picks.


Is it too soon to have a favorite book of the year? I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of Emily Henry’s next book, People We Meet on Vacation, and I can already tell you it’s going on my best of the year list. I’m a big fan of everything Emily writes—her characters are so real and relatable, she captures witty banter like no other, and she has a way of making scenes both steamy and sweet. I loved her last book, Beach Read, and I think this one might be even better!

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION tells the story of best friends, Poppy and Alex, over ten years of summer vacations together. The story moves between present day, when Alex and Poppy haven’t spoken in two years, and the past, traveling forward through their initial meeting in college and all the summer vacations that follow. It’s a perfect pandemic book for anyone who misses travel—and all the good and bad that goes along with it.

A MILLION REASONS WHY by Jessica Strawser

I’m a big fan of Jessica Strawser’s books, and her latest is no exception. I binge-listened to A Million Reasons Why on audio, and even though this book is more in the women’s fiction camp than her previous suspense novels—there was one point when I literally gasped out loud. I loved seeing the way she masterfully used the DNA plot twist and brought the struggle and the joy that comes with a discovery like that to life. With family secrets, a sisterly bond, mother-daughter tension, an old flame, best friends and a question of ethics, this is one book you won’t want to miss!

A MILLION REASONS WHY tells the story of two half-sisters who discover each other through a mail-in DNA test. The match is an answered prayer for one sister, who is suffering from kidney failure and needs a living donor to survive. For her sister, the news is a tipping point, revealing a chain of secrets and lies that impact her past and potentially her future. It’s about family, friendship and most importantly, forgiveness.

ARE WE THERE YET? by Kathleen West

There’s a reason people call Kathleen West the American Liane Moriarty—and her latest novel, Are We There Yet, is more reason why. I bought this book twice: once in the hard copy for my bookshelf, and the second time on audio so I could read it as quickly as possible. I ended up binge-listening to it in one weekend. (Yes, you might be sensing a theme here.) Between the multiple points-of-view, Kathleen’s signature smart and clever writing, and the real, relatable issues she tackles, this book is another must-read. Especially if you have children and don’t know what “finsta” is.

ARE WE THERE YET is a heartfelt and thought-provoking novel that tells the story of one suburban mom searching to find herself among fake Instagram pages, long-buried family secrets, and the horrors of middle school.

THE KINDEST LIE by Nancy Johnson

I was fortunate enough to be a beta reader for Nancy Johnson’s debut, The Kindest Lie. Even back when I was reading it in second-or-third draft form, I knew it was something special. Nancy is an incredible writer; her prose is gorgeous, yet accessible. She tackles tough subjects including race and class on an emotional, human level. Her characters are as real as their struggles, and you’ll be rooting for them as they face the past in order to embrace the future. If you haven’t already, be sure to pick up this beautiful book. It’s deserving of all of the success and praise it’s received.

THE KINDEST LIE is the story of Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, who is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and abandoned—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.

WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG by Julie Carrick Dalton

This book. I can’t say enough wonderful things about it. Waiting for the Night Song has a little bit of everything—dual timelines, reunited childhood friends, secrets, lies and a dead body in the forest. And there’s more. The whole story is wrapped in the very real high-stakes world of climate fiction. What’s happening in the forest plays a big part in the story, and I learned a lot without realizing I was learning a lot. The climate aspect is an integrated part of the story that takes that the tension and drama way up in a way that’s unfortunately very real. This book is a great read for Earth Day, and any other day!

WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG is the story of Cadie, a forestry researcher who is called back to her childhood home after an urgent message from her long-estranged best friend, Daniela Garcia. Cadie and Daniela are forced to face a dark secret that ended both their idyllic childhood bond, and the magical summer that takes up more space in Cadie’s memory than all her other years combined. It’s an exploration of friendship, a love song to the natural world, a call to fight for what we believe in, and a reminder that the truth will always rise.

Want more Alison Hammer? Check out our interview with Alison Hammer about her new book Little Pieces of Me.