February isn’t generally considered a big month for books, but the pace of releases is picking up after the post-holiday doldrums. Here are excerpts from our starred reviews of a few great novels, including two early releases from brand-new imprints, Lee Boudreaux Books and Tim Duggan Books.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, by Mona Awad (Penguin): “A young woman navigates uneasy relationships with herself, her weight, and the world in Awad’s painfully raw—and bitingly funny—debut.”

The Throwback Special, by Chris Bachelder (Norton): “In this comic dissection of male bonding, a group of men gathers for their yearly celebration and re-enactment of a notorious play in professional football.”

And After Many Days, by Jowhor Ile (Tim Duggan/Crown): “A family reckons with the sudden, inexplicable disappearance of a child in this debut novel from a young Nigerian writer. Ile creates a suspenseful yet sophisticated narrative from the first page. Here are beautifully drawn characters grounded in the universal story of a teenage boy, the brother of the boy who disappeared, discovering the world around him….”

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The Sleep Garden, by Jim Krusoe (Tin House): “A collection of oddballs living in (and never leaving) a strange underground apartment called the Burrow grapple with life's—and the afterlife's—mysteries.”

tender cover art Tender, by Belinda McKeon (Lee Boudreaux/Little, Brown): “In McKeon’s exquisite second novel, two Dublin young people—poet and student Catherine and aspiring art photographer James—tumble into a friendship that, though its lines shift and blur, ultimately helps bring their identities into focus.”

The Longest Night, by Andria Willams (Random House): “Scintillating marital drama set at a nuclear testing station in the late 1950s.…A smoldering, altogether impressive debut that probes the social and emotional strains on military families in a fresh and insightful way.”

Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.