An imaginative, thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be truly alive.

EMBRACE INVERSE VIBRATIONS

A man sets out on a journey through a surreal landscape in search of a sense of purpose in Chouinard’s debut novel.

In a rustic cabin “at the utmost edge of the world,” a nameless man is awakened by the sunrise and steps outside in a dazed stupor. The world he encounters feels new and incomprehensible to him. Propelled by an innate desire to explore and understand his surroundings, he walks to the sea, where he experiences a moment of rapture. He later awakens on the shoreline to find a note in his pocket from “the Sentient Sage,” which suggests that there’s more to life than mere repetition of cyclical patterns. The Sage later appears to him in the form of a child, and during their conversation, the man discovers that his own name is Davis. Davis further explores his surroundings, where he encounters strange beasts, including a gigantic, talking ape. He finds his way to Inanimis, a city whose residents “have lost touch with what it truly means to be alive.” Stirrings of political unrest in the city finally allow Davis to discern his purpose. Chouinard’s prose is consistently stimulating and poses deep philosophical questions. In his descriptions of the people of Inanimis, the author holds a mirror up to the greed and shortsightedness of humankind: “They strive ever to be better than Nature, to improve upon it, in defiance of its rules. They focus solely on what they find valuable at present.” Chouinard’s unadorned style is akin to that of a parable, which may put off some readers: “he knew that he had come so soon to the point where he must decide which route he would take.” Yet fans of books such as Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist (1988) will find satisfaction in searching for the story’s deeper meanings. Davis’ journey from being “a man with no name, thoughts, or memories” to realizing his own inner power proves compelling, and the novel’s denouement will take many by surprise.

An imaginative, thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be truly alive.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7351679-1-6

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Storm King Studios LLC

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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