stack of 3 books plus open book with pen. Title: Top Ten Tuesday

#TopTenTuesday: Remarkable Debut Novels

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Here’s how it works: Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic for each Tuesday. If you check this link, you’ll find she’s assigned topics for several future weeks so you can plan ahead. She adds, “create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list . . . Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you!”

Each week Jana posts a Linky on her blog where you can (if you want) share a link to your post and check out other bloggers’ posts.

This week is a freebie, which means we get to come up with our own topic. 

I tend to think that writers, like most people, get better at what they do with practice. Over the years I’ve read a number of debut novels that I found particularly striking because they demonstrate a high level of skill for a new novelist. Here are 10 such remarkable debut novels.

Darling Rose Gold (2020) by Stephanie Wrobel

Book cover: Darling Rose Gold by stephanie Wrobel

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. . . . Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes. And Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…


What I especially like about this debut novel is the way the author avoids stereotyping the characters with labels and instead shows how both mother and daughter grew into the people they are.

Book cover: The Black Echo by Michael Connelly

The Black Echo (1992) by Michael Connelly

This novel introduces Connelly’s now iconic detective Harry Bosch of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Mrs. March (2021) by Virginia Feito

Book cover: Mrs. March by Virginia Feito

Mrs. March is the proud wife of author George March, whose latest novel is a best-seller everyone in Manhattan is gossiping about. But a casual remark about one of the novel’s characters by the shopkeeper at her favorite patisserie nudges Mrs. March over the edge into an overwhelming downward spiral of paranoia, self-doubt, and traumatic memories.

Any convincing portrait of mental instability must create the feeling of chaotic, disjointed thought patterns. Yet the author must control the chaos to allow readers to understand and appreciate what is happening to the character. Anyone who can pull off this feat is a skilled writer indeed, especially a writer who does it so well in her first published novel.

cover: The Dry

The Dry by Jane Harper

This compelling novel introduced Australian author Jane Harper to the world. She has gone on to write three more novels, all of which live up to the promise of this debut.

The Space Between Worlds (2020) by Micaiah Johnson

book cover: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

In a future when people can travel between parallel universes, the main character of this richly designed world searches for a place to call home. This impressive debut novel provides a fascinating exploration of the multiverse and of questions of identity, elitism/classism, love, home, and belonging.

Book cover: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You (2014) by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng here uses a creative approach to narrative structure to shine a light on issues of multiculturalism and family relations.

The Kite Runner (2003) by Khaled Hosseini

Book cover: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.


Cover: Miracle Creek

Miracle Creek (2019) by Angie Kim

Angie Kim’s debut novel explores questions of truth, family, and cultural differences through the use of multiple points of view.

Cover: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee

Simply one of the best novels ever written.

cover: We Are the Brennans

 We Are the Brennans (2021) by Tracey Lange

Another outstanding debut that uses multiple narrators to look at family dynamics.


10 Enticing Debut Novels to Read This Spring

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

11 thoughts on “#TopTenTuesday: Remarkable Debut Novels”

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks, Cindy. I loved your topic as well. In fact, I used it to start a new list of future TTT topics for myself. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  1. I still need to read several of these!! Darling Rose Gold was one that I was really excited about. I love your topic because I’ve read some amazing debuts!

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      I was so glad the author of Darling Rose Gold chose not to name the psychological syndromes involved. It was more interesting to read how the characters developed their behaviors. Good to hear from you, Leslie.

  2. I loved The Dry, as well, and I couldn’t believe it was a debut! I still need to read more by the author, though. Everything I Never Told You and We Are the Brennans are both on my tbr, so I’m happy to hear how much you enjoyed them. Great post!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: