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BONE NECKLACE

A detailed volume that shines a light on a tragic period of American history.

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Two enemies become allies in this historical novel, set during the Nez Perce War.

In the summer of 1877, U.S. Army soldiers are in a conflict with the Nez Perce people, whose leaders chose not to heed a governmental order to relocate to an Idaho reservation. This story is told from the perspectives of a drunken Idaho militiaman, a passionate Nez Perce warrior, and a visiting English painter who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jack Peniel is too intoxicated to save his stepmother from a fire, and he joins up with his abusive sheriff father’s volunteer militia unit. A man named Running Bird set the blaze, after the lawman refused to arrest his father’s White murderer. Nicole Lowsley is visiting Yosemite when the Nez Perce attack, and she becomes Running Bird’s captive. All three main characters find themselves entangled in dangerous times as the dwindling tribe makes a desperate dash for haven in Canada, with the U.S. Army chasing them. Throughout the ordeal, Jack and Running Bird both grow as characters and Nicole is awakened to the struggles of the Nez Perce people. Soon, the media, and then public opinion, swing away from support for the government’s military campaign. Debut author Sullivan, a lawyer, began working on this book two decades ago after visiting the Big Hole Battlefield in Montana, as she was drawn to the injustices suffered by the Nez Perce. These years of research are fully evident in the narrative, which brings the despicable treatment of the Nez Perce people to vivid life; she even includes 50 pages of character bios, photos, and period editorials to flesh out the setting. Sullivan has also created a trio of flawed but memorable characters. Early on, they seem like mere archetypes: Jack is sloth, Running Bird is wrath, and Nicole is pride. However, they all move into new roles as the world changes around them, and it’s bracing to follow their personal journeys.

A detailed volume that shines a light on a tragic period of American history.

Pub Date: June 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-953021-54-0

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Brandylane Publishers, Inc.

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2022

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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JUST FOR THE SUMMER

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Two people with bad luck in relationships find each other through a popular Reddit thread.

Emma Grant and her best friend, Maddy, are travel nurses, working at hospitals for three-month stints while they see the country. Just a few weeks before they’re set to move to Hawaii, Emma reads a popular “Am I the Asshole” Reddit thread from a Minnesota man who thinks he’s cursed—women he dates find their soulmates after breaking up with him, and the latest one found true love with his best friend! Emma has had a similar experience, which inspires her to DM the man and commiserate. She’s delighted by her witty, lively interactions with software engineer Justin Dahl, and is intrigued when he suggests that if they date each other, maybe they’ll each find their soulmate afterward. Emma upends the Hawaii plan and convinces Maddy to move to Minneapolis for the summer so she can meet Justin in person. The overly complex setup brings Emma and Justin together and the two hit it off, with Justin immediately falling head over heels for Emma. Jimenez then pivots to creating romantic roadblocks and melodramatic subplots centering on each character’s family of origin. Justin’s mother is about to serve six years in prison for embezzlement, which means Justin must move back home to care for his three much younger siblings. Emma was traumatized by her own mother for much of her childhood, left to fend for herself and eventually abandoned in the foster system. When her mother shows up in Minnesota, Emma must face her traumatic childhood and admit that she has prioritized her mother’s well-being over her own. There is little time devoted to Emma’s painful efforts to heal herself enough to accept Justin’s love, which leaves the novel feeling unsatisfying.

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781538704431

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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