Okra Picks are a dozen fresh titles chosen each season that SIBA Indie Bookstores want to handsell. These books should be southern in nature but can cover any genre, not just fiction. Southern readers love their writers, and we want to be at the forefront of bringing them a strong selection of Southern titles not to be missed each season.

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DISCOVER THE CURRENT CROP OF FRESH OKRA PICKS...

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View all the Okra Picks (Fall 2014-present) here.

  • A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

    A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton"A brilliant mosaic of an African American family and a love song to New Orleans...written with deep insight and devastating honesty but also with grace and beauty." ―Dana Johnson, author of Elsewhere, California

    Evelyn is a Creole woman who comes of age in New Orleans at the height of World War II. Her family inhabits the upper echelon of Black society, and when she falls for no-account Renard, she is forced to choose between her life of privilege and the man she loves.

    In 1982, Evelyn's daughter, Jackie, is a frazzled single mother grappling with her absent husband's drug addiction. Just as she comes to terms with his abandoning the family, he returns, ready to resume their old life.

    Jackie's son, T.C., loves the creative process of growing marijuana more than the weed itself. He was a square before Hurricane Katrina, but the New Orleans he knew didn't survive the storm. Fresh out of a four-month stint for drug charges, T.C. decides to start over―until an old friend convinces him to stake his new beginning on one last deal.

    For Evelyn, Jim Crow is an ongoing reality, and in its wake new threats spring up to haunt her descendants. A Kind of Freedom is an urgent novel that explores the legacy of racial disparity in the South through a poignant and redemptive family history.

    A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton | Counterpoint LLC | 9781619029224 | Read the first chapter

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  • Blight by Alexandra Duncan

    Blight by Alexandra DuncanWhen an agribusiness facility producing genetically engineered food releases a deadly toxin into the environment, seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres races to deliver the cure before time runs out.

    From the author of the acclaimed American Booksellers Association's Indies Introduce pick Salvage, which was called "Brilliant, feminist science fiction" by Stephanie Perkins, the internationally bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. This stand-alone action-adventure story is perfect for fans of Oryx and Crake and The House of the Scorpion

    Seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres has lived on the AgraStar farm north of Atlanta, Georgia, since she was found outside its gates at the age of five. Now she's part of the security force guarding the fence and watching for scavengers—people who would rather steal genetically engineered food from the Company than work for it. When a group of such rebels accidentally sets off an explosion in the research compound, it releases into the air a blight that kills every living thing in its path—including humans. With blight-resistant seeds in her pocket, Tempest teams up with a scavenger boy named Alder and runs for help. But when they finally arrive at AgraStar headquarters, they discover that there's an even bigger plot behind the blight—and it's up to them to stop it from happening again.

    Inspired by current environmental issues, specifically the genetic adjustment of seeds to resist blight and the risks of not allowing natural seed diversity, this is an action-adventure story that is Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake meets Nancy Farmer's House of the Scorpion.

    Blight by Alexandra Duncan | Greenwillow Books | 9780062396990

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  • If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss

    If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah WeissHe's gonna be sorry he ever messed with me and Loretta Lynn

    Sadie Blue has been a wife for fifteen days. That's long enough to know she should have never hitched herself to Roy Tupkin, even with the baby.

    Sadie is desperate to make her own mark on the world, but in remote Appalachia, a ticket out of town is hard to come by, and hope often gets stomped out. When a stranger sweeps into Baines Creek and knocks things off kilter, Sadie finds herself with an unexpected lifeline...if she can just figure out how to use it.

    This intimate insight into a fiercely proud, tenacious community unfolds through the voices of the forgotten folks of Baines Creek. With a colorful cast of characters that each contribute a new perspective, If the Creek Don't Riseis a debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

    If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss | Sourcebooks | 9781492647454 | Read the first chapter

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  • Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat by Patricia Williams

    Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat by Patricia WilliamsA remarkably bold and inspiring story of crime, motherhood, and redemption—not since Cupcake Brown's A Piece of Cake has there been a memoir this unforgettable.

    You want to know about the struggle of growing up poor, black, and female? Ask any girl from any 'hood. You want to know what it takes to rise above your circumstances when all the cards are stacked against you? Ask me.

    Comedian Patricia Williams, who for years went by her street name "Rabbit," was born and raised in Atlanta's most troubled neighborhood at the height of the crack epidemic.

    One of five children, Pat watched as her alcoholic mother struggled to get by on charity, cons, and petty crimes. At age seven, Pat was taught to roll drunks for money. At twelve, she was targeted for sex by a man eight years her senior; by thirteen, she was pregnant. By fifteen, Pat was a mother of two.

    Alone at sixteen, Pat was determined to make a better life for her children. But with no job skills and an eighth-grade education, her options were limited. She learned quickly that hustling and humor were the only tools she had to survive.

    Rabbit is an unflinching memoir of cinematic scope and unexpected humor that offers a rare glimpse into the harrowing reality of life on America's margins—a powerful true story of resilience, determination, and the transformative power of love.

    Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat by Patricia Williams | Dey Street Books | 9780062407306

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  • Refugee by Alan Gratz

    Refugee by Alan GratzJOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world...

    ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America...

    MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe...

    All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers--from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.

    This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.

    Refugee by Alan Gratz | Scholastic Press | 9780545880831 | Read the first chapter

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  • Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann

    Shadow of the Lions by Christopher SwannIn the middle of his senior year at the Blackburne School in Virginia, Matthias Glass's roommate and best friend Fritz Davenport runs off into the woods after the two boys have an argument--and vanishes without a trace. Ever since, Matthias has felt responsible, thinking that their fight, about a betrayal of the school's honor code, led to Fritz's disappearance.

    A decade later, after an early triumph with his first novel, followed by too much partying and too little work, Matthias realizes he has stalled out and become a failure as a writer, a boyfriend, a man. So when he is offered a job at Blackburne as an English teacher, he sees it as a chance to put his life back together. But once on campus, Matthias gets swiftly drawn into the past and is driven to find out what happened to Fritz. Along the way he must reckon with Fritz's complicated and powerful Washington, D.C., family and the shocking death of a student--and begin to understand his own place in the privileged world of Blackburne.

    In the spirit of film noir, Shadow of the Lions takes plenty of dark, surprising twists--it's a thriller, but also a moving debut that is as much about the mystery as it is about the redemption of a broken friendship and a lost soul.

    Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann | Algonquin Books | 9781616205003

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  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

    Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn WardA searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award–winner Jesmyn Ward.

    In Jesmyn Ward's first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi's past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers.

    Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she's high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie's children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

    Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward's distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.

    Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward | Scribner Book Company | 9781501126062

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  • The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

    The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn JacksonWith empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of Gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality---the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

    Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs' weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

    It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She's having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old's life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel's marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she's been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

    Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother's affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she's pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she's got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie's been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family's freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

    The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson | William Morrow & Company | 9780062105714 | Read the first chapter

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  • The Bookshop at Water's End by Patti Callahan Henry

    The Bookshop at Water's End by Patti Callahan HenryThe women who spent their childhood summers in a small southern town discover it harbors secrets as lush as the marshes that surround it...

    Bonny Blankenship's most treasured memories are of idyllic summers spent in Watersend, South Carolina, with her best friend, Lainey McKay. Amid the sand dunes and oak trees draped with Spanish moss, they swam and wished for happy-ever-afters, then escaped to the local bookshop to read and whisper in the glorious cool silence. Until the night that changed everything, the night that Lainey's mother disappeared.

    Now, in her early fifties, Bonny is desperate to clear her head after a tragic mistake threatens her career as an emergency room doctor, and her marriage crumbles around her. With her troubled teenage daughter, Piper, in tow, she goes back to the beloved river house, where she is soon joined by Lainey and her two young children. During lazy summer days and magical nights, they reunite with bookshop owner Mimi, who is tangled with the past and its mysteries. As the three women cling to a fragile peace, buried secrets and long ago loves return like the tide.

    The Bookshop at Water's End by Patti Callahan Henry | Berkley Books | 9780399583117 | Read the first chapter

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  • The Devil's Muse by Bill Loehfelm

    The Devil's Muse by Bill LoehfelmIn the thrilling fifth book in the critically acclaimed series that's "edgy, dangerous, but pulsing with life" (Bill Ott, Booklist), a Mardi Gras parade turns deadly.

    It's Mardi Gras in New Orleans and rookie cop Maureen Coughlin has no idea what she's in for. Her night working the parades begins calmly enough―until a half-naked man careens through the crowd and throws himself onto the hood of an oncoming SUV. As she tries to deal with the incident amid the pulsing chaos of the parade, Maureen hears gunshots. Moments later, with three wounded and a handful of drunken witnesses, Maureen has a full-fledged investigation on her hands. Who was the shooter? Who was he after? Who's the next target? City bigwigs begin pressuring Maureen and her crew for quick answers. And with an amateur camera crew intent on capturing "the real Mardi Gras" for their YouTube channel, an incompetent supervising detective, and tense race relations in a city more likely to mistrust cops than ever, it's going to be a very long night―and a memorable first Mardi Gras―for Maureen.

    With The Devil's Muse, the acclaimed crime writer Bill Loehfelm conjures rowdy New Orleans in all its mess and marvel, and sends Maureen deep into the city on another wild, high-octane adventure.

    The Devil's Muse by Bill Loehfelm | Sarah Crichton Books | 9780374279776 | Read the first chapter

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  • The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang

    The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang"Splendid―a distinctive clear-eyed perspective on a fresh corner of the Civil War." ―Charles Frazier, New York Times bestselling author of Cold Mountain

    "A wise and timely book." ―Ron Rash, New York Timesbestselling author of Serena

    Rooted in the history of the only secessionist town north of the Mason Dixon Line, The Hidden Light of Northern Fires tells a story of redemption amidst a war that tore families and the country apart.

    Mary Willis has always been an outcast, an abolitionist in a town of bounty hunters and anti-Union farmers. After college, she dreams of exploring the country, but is obligated to take over the household duties and management of her family's farm, while her brother Leander avoids his own responsibilities. Helping runaways is the only thing that makes her life in Town Line bearable.

    When escaped slave Joe Bell collapses in her father's barn, Mary is determined to help him cross to freedom in nearby Canada. But the wounded fugitive is haunted by his vengeful owner, who relentlessly hunts him up and down the country, and his sister, still trapped as a slave in the South.

    As the countryside is riled by the drumbeat of civil war, rebels and soldiers from both sides bring intrigue and violence of the brutal war to the town and the farm, and threaten to destroy all that Mary loves.

    The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang | Thomas Dunne Books | 9781250122353 | Read the first chapter

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  • The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones

    The Salt Line by Holly Goddard JonesIn the spirit of Station Eleven and California, award-winning novelist Holly Goddard Jones offers a literary spin on the dystopian genre with this gripping story of survival and humanity about a group of adrenaline junkies who jump "the Salt Line."

    How far will they go for their freedom--once they decide what freedom really means?

    In an unspecified future, the United States' borders have receded behind a salt line--a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks. Those within the zone live safe, if limited, lives in a society controlled by a common fear. Few have any reason to venture out of zone, except for the adrenaline junkies who pay a fortune to tour what's left of nature. Those among the latest expedition include a popstar and his girlfriend, Edie; the tech giant Wes; and Marta; a seemingly simple housewife.

    Once out of zone, the group find themselves at the mercy of deadly ticks--and at the center of a murderous plot. They become captives in Ruby City, a community made up of outer-zone survivors determined to protect their hardscrabble existence. As alliances and friendships shift amongst the hostages, Edie, Wes, and Marta must decide how far they are willing to go to get to the right side of the salt line.

    The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones | G.P. Putnam's Sons | 9780735214316

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  • Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

    Young Jane Young by Gabrielle ZevinFrom the author of the international bestseller The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry comes another novel that will have everyone talking.

    Aviva Grossman, an ambitious congressional intern in Florida, makes the mistake of having an affair with her boss--and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the beloved congressman doesn't take the fall. But Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins: slut-shamed, she becomes a late-night talk show punch line, anathema to politics.

    She sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. This time, she tries to be smarter about her life and strives to raise her daughter, Ruby, to be strong and confident. But when, at the urging of others, Aviva decides to run for public office herself, that long-ago mistake trails her via the Internet and catches up--an inescapable scarlet A. In the digital age, the past is never, ever, truly past. And it's only a matter of time until Ruby finds out who her mother was and is forced to reconcile that person with the one she knows.

    Young Jane Young is a smart, funny, and moving novel about what it means to be a woman of any age, and captures not just the mood of our recent highly charged political season, but also the double standards alive and well in every aspect of life for women.

    Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin | Algonquin Books| 9781616205041

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