The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood (Simon & Schuster, £7.99)

What at first sight appears to be just another middle-class, coming-of-age novel written all too preciously is, on closer inspection, a sensitive study on the collision of individuals. Oscar Lowe works in a Cambridge nursing home, Iris Bellwether is a medical student at the university and their coming together is slow and disruptive but also tender.

French Children Don't Throw Their Food by Pamela Druckerman (Black Swan, £7.99)

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After she moves to Paris to be with the man who will become her husband and gives birth to the first of her three children, freelance journalist Druckerman notices how rarely Parisian children have tantrums, how they engage with adults etc, and sets out to discover why. Occasionally too much focus on the personal but engaging enough.

Lost Memory Of Skin by Russell Banks (Profile, £7.99)

Banks specialises in unsavoury subjects and the "untouchables" in society – here, it's "the Kid" who has never had much of an upbringing and was convicted of a relationship with an underage girl. Now he's living in a tent under a causeway alongside other sex offenders. Banks is an excellent dissector of human nature and its failings.

Iphigenia In Forest Hills by Janet Malcolm (Yale University Press, £9.99)

Malcolm takes a unique route that somehow manages to be both circuitous and direct at the same time as she examines the case of a young Bukharan-Jewish woman from Queens, standing trial for the murder of her husband after losing custody of her daughter, a case in which she interfered as she reported on it. Compelling and troubling.

Lesley McDowell