Spring cleaning: Novels that give characters fresh starts

Springtime has rushed in again, and maybe this year we’ll finally get around to spring cleaning (but probably not). The characters in these books cleaned house metaphorically, starting their lives over to get a fresh perspective! Try one of them out if you’re in the mood for something new.

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

How many married people have daydreamed about walking out to find a different life? Britt-Marie actually does it, and follows her heart right into a small town full of quirky misfits.

XOXO by Axie Oh

When Jenny moves to Seoul and runs into the boy she spent a dreamy L.A. evening with, it seems like fate. But he happens to be a K-pop superstar, and a relationship is simply off the table for both of them.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Bree Matthews is running away from her memories after her mother dies in a tragic accident, and thankfully she has been accepted to a program for high schoolers at UNC. But when she discovers a secret society full of magical secrets, her life is only going to get more complicated. 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora, a young outcast, escapes a slave plantation in Georgia through a literal underground railroad, searching for a route to make a life for herself.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

An unexpected friendship between a recently widowed Evvie and Dean, a pitcher with the yips, will lead to uncovered secrets, new relationships, and a hopeful future.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

After her mother’s death and the dissolution of her marriage, Cheryl Strayed took to the Pacific Crest Trail to rediscover herself.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

After fleeing their home in the Dominican Republic, the four Garcia girls adjust to an overwhelming New York City as their parents try to hold on to old traditions.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A.J. Fikry lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and his prized possession, a rare collection of Edgar Allen Poe poems, has been stolen. But a mysterious package gives Fikry the chance to make his life over.

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

Roser, a pregnant young widow, must marry Victor, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love, as well as flee a Spanish civil war. Though neither of them wants the marriage, they are united in their hope of returning home.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a sabbatical, so she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house. Eileen is newly single and about to turn 80. Her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen, so she and Leena decide to try a two-month swap.