The Best Books of 2012

They're here! The 19 books O's editors (and some of our favorite writers) can't stop talking about. (Hint: They also make great holiday gifts and book club picks.)

running the rift
Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

Running the Rift

384 pages
"A perfect novel takes me somewhere amazing I've never been, and slides me inside the skin of someone I'd both love and dread to be. I basically inhaled this story in one long breath."Barbara Kingsolver

Jean Patrick, a Tutsi boy living in Rwanda before the 1994 genocide, dreams that his legs will save his family from the conflicts ravaging his country. But en route to his ultimate goal of running in the Olympics, he faces steep hurdles: the prejudice of Hutu bullies and his own identity struggles. Jean Patrick's gift carries him farduring his grueling training, he wins the attention of Rwanda, and of Bea, a beautiful journalism student with a revolutionary spirit. But when deadly riots erupt, Jean Patrick is forced to leave his country and the woman he loves behind. In Naomi Benaron's Running the Rift (Algonquin), a novel full of unspeakable strife but also joy, humor, and love, "hope always [chases] close on the heels of despair," thanks to a writer who knows when to keep a steady pace and when to explode into an all-out sprint.
— Stephan Lee