Bloodroot and Little Bee are, hands down, the best books I've read in 2010 thus far. Strangely enough, they have an odd detail in common - in both books, one appendage from a main character is lost, and in a sense, it is these acts of violence that set the stories in motion, even though the mysteries of how these appendages are lost are slow to unravel. There are some brutal scenes in each of these books, but if you can stomach it, these are too good to miss.
Bloodroot, Amy Greene's debut novel, is a multigenerational saga set in Appalachia. I read so many books that I often forget plot lines or the names of characters, but I doubt I'll ever forget Myra and Johnny Odom. The story is told, quite convincingly, from the perspective of several different characters. The book almost feels like reading magical realism. This is stunning, haunting storytelling at its best.
Little Bee, Chris Cleave's second novel, tells the story of how the lives of a British woman and a Nigerian girl become intertwined as a result of a horrific encounter. It is a dark story, though infused with humor. The characters are well-developed, and Little Bee is unforgettable. I was blown away.