When you think about the Hoosier state, you probably don’t think about books – after all we’re generally known for the Indianapolis 500, basketball and corn. But there have been some great stories set here and many are by Hoosiers themselves!
Here are five titles set in Indiana that everyone should read.
Last Words by Michael Koryta
Ten years ago, Sarah Martin, a teenage girl from Garrison, Indiana disappeared inside a rural Indiana cave. Her boyfriend swore she was right behind him, but can’t recall what happened in the inky darkness and ultimately, only one teen emerged that day. No one is able to find her except for Ridley Barnes, a seasoned explorer who surfaced with her lifeless body a few days after the incident. Barnes has no memory of where or how he found her and everyone in the small town believes he’s responsible for her death. But with no evidence to prove his involvement, the Garrison police department has no choice but to release Barnes.
Markus Novak, a private investigator from Florida, is sent to re-open the case and see if he can solve the ten-year-old mystery of Sarah Martin’s death. He’s not particularly interested in a case that’s gone cold, but his job is on the line and if he can’t prove to his boss that he can work on something other than his own wife’s death, he’ll likely lose his job. But the people of Garrison seem to distrust Novak even more than Barnes and it’s not until Novak himself gets trapped in the cave that the pieces of the puzzle start fitting together.
Written by Bloomington native Michael Koryta, Last Words is a suspenseful and engrossing read that will appeal to fans crime mysteries. Indiana natives will recognize the setting in the book from the Indiana Cave Trail network of caves.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Hazel and Gus meet in a support group for kids with cancer, which is not the most romantic of places to find the love of your life.
Yet the two bond over books; one title, An Imperial Affliction, especially connects them and Gus surprises Hazel with tickets to Amsterdam to meet the author so they can find out why he ended the story the way he did.
Set in Indianapolis, Indiana, The Fault in Our Stars is both delightful and heartbreaking at the same time, painting a very real picture of what life can be like for teens who suffer from cancer.
John Green lives in Indianapolis, which serves as the backdrop for several of his young adult novels. Many of the places in his books are real places in the Circle City and even though the movie version was not filmed here, it can be fun to go looking for all the places Hazel and Gus hung out in the novel.
Come and Get Me by August Norman
Award-winning journalist Caitlin Bergman returns to Indiana University to accept an award, and she’s not exactly thrilled to be back in the town that holds some haunting memories from her college years.
When a young college student goes missing, Caitlin become involved in the case and is forced to confront her own trauma, dealing with the same police force that screwed her case up years ago.
Loosely based on the Lauren Spierer case that still remains unsolved today, Come and Get Me is a must read. Hoosiers will enjoy the setting – all the places in the book are very real, and if you’re familiar with Bloomington at all, you will likely have a clear picture painted in your head as the events in the story unfold.
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
While the World’s Fair is being built in Chicago, H.H. Holmes is building his murder house a few blocks away.
Holmes murdered at least twenty-seven people, defrauded countless others and investigators were horrified to find gas chambers, sound proof rooms and torture tables when they raided his building.
Based on the true story of one of America’s most infamous serial killers, Devil in the White City isn’t set in Indiana for most of the book but it has strong ties to the state.
Holmes’ third wife was from Franklin, Indiana (the town where I work!) and for a short time, lived in Indianapolis while the police were pursing him. Here, he committed one of his last murders in a home in Irvington, and it was a gruesome one.
I included this one since it has strong ties to the Hoosier state and interest should peak in the next few years with the adaptation of the true crime non-fiction title into a Hulu mini series produced by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Teen Idol by Meg Cabot
Jen Greenley is kinda famous – everyone always wants to know what she’s wearing, who she’s with and where she’s going next.
But when the school administration asks her to befriend a new student, who happens to be an undercover Hollywood movie star, she’s about to find out she’s not the only “teen idol” at her high school.
Bloomington, Indiana native Meg Cabot is the GOAT when it comes to YA/teen lit. The author behind book-to-movie classics such as “The Princess Diaries”, her charming and witty style make for light reads.
Teen Idol is set in the Hoosier state and it was also the author’s first stand alone novel after writing several series.