This spring has come with its fair share of excellent debut novels. Here are three more, for your reading pleasure.

The Sky Was Ours

Joe Fassler. Penguin, $18 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-0-14-313568-5
The dream of flight enthralls an aimless young woman in Fassler’s stunning debut. In the mid-2000s, 24-year-old Jane Hannah-Smith impulsively flees her coding program in Ithaca, N.Y., landing in the tiny town of Lack near the Canadian border. There, she’s drawn to eccentric Barry Haliban, who’s living off the grid in a dilapidated house and working on making human-powered wings. His son, Ike, tries to convince him of the futility of the project and warns him of the risks after Barry sustains several serious injuries from failed flight attempts. Still, with Jane at his side, Barry persists, driven not just by the desire to fly but to share the knowledge with others. He envisions a secret unregulated movement of DIY wing-makers and fliers, one that would render national borders meaningless and the police powerless to stop them. When Barry and Jane finally soar through the air with their stick-and-linen contraptions, they’re intoxicated by the sensation (“There was nothing but the rush of wind in my ears and a sense of life-giving speed”). Fassler’s audacious premise is buoyed by pristine prose and vibrant characterizations. The result is a captivating fairy tale of the slippery line between fanatic and genius. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Apr.)

Sweetness in the Skin

Ishi Robinson. Harper, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-333487-8
Robinson’s vivacious debut follows a Jamaican teenager who weighs her Kingston roots against the prospect of an exciting new life in France. Pumkin Patterson, 13, lives with her dressmaker grandmother Cecille, her beloved and ambitious aunt Sophie, and her abusive, alcoholic mom Paulette. After Cecille dies suddenly and Sophie moves out, Pumkin sets her sights on following her aunt to Paris. To do so, she must gather enough money to pay a private language academy for lessons that will help her pass the French school entrance exam. With no hope of help from her mother, who disappears for days at a time, Pumkin draws on her talent for baking, selling her wares at school and at a local shop. After she befriends a wealthy classmate at the academy, her mother and an old friend from her neighborhood painfully and derisively label her “stoosh” (pretentious), prompting her to hide her new life from her home life and vice versa. Robinson’s clear eye for class and color discrimination extends to the parallel narrative of Sophie, who breaks up with a Jamaican lover in France because of his darker skin and patois, an act that throws Pumkin’s trajectory into stark relief. This perceptive coming-of-age novel marks Robinson as a writer to watch. Agent: David Forrer, InkWell Management. (Apr.)

Your Presence Is Mandatory

Sasha Vasilyuk. Bloomsbury, $28.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-63973-153-4
Vasilyuk’s impressive debut chronicles the tribulations of a Ukrainian Jewish WWII veteran and his widow’s distress in the early stages of the 2014 Russo-Ukrainian War. Yefim Shulman, 18, is stationed in Lithuania with the Red Army in 1941 when he’s injured during a surprise nighttime attack. Later, he and his fellow survivors are ambushed and forced to work in a series of labor camps. After spending four years in captivity, he rejoins the Red Army in Niegripp and takes part in the invasion of Berlin. Back in Ukraine after the war, he marries bookish Nina. Looming over their life together is Stalin’s Order No. 270, which labels as a traitor anyone who fell captive to the Germans. Forced to lie for his survival, Yefim tells people he was never imprisoned. Throughout, Vasilyuk alternates the narration between Yefim, who dies in 2007, and Nina, who lives in Russian-occupied Donetsk in 2015. In a poignant moment, she reflects how, after surviving famine and WWII, she never thought she’d see the town she lived in for most of her life destroyed from within by separatists. This is a reverberating exploration of guilt, trauma, and the turbulent history between Ukraine and Russia. Agent: Michelle Brower, Trellis Literary. (Apr.)