Pitch-perfect voices tell a story loaded with lyric suffering and redemption—bound to be a huge hit.

BLOODROOT

Greene’s debut shows three generations of an eastern Tennessee family struggling against abusive men and narrow middle-class values that try to destroy their unusually active spirits.

In the 1960s, Byrdie raises her granddaughter Myra on Bloodroot Mountain. She can tell early on that Myra has “the touch,” an extra sensitivity passed down by the women of their family, though it skipped Byrdie. Myra’s grandmother is especially devoted to her because all of Birdie’s children died young, including Myra’s mother Clio, whose car was hit by a train while she was out hell-raising with Myra’s dad. The narration of Part One alternates between Birdie and Myra’s boyhood friend Doug, who loves the wild girl but knows she’ll never be his. Then puberty hits. Poor Doug, the novel’s most endearing, least tortured character, disappears from the book after Myra is swept up in a passionate romance with John Odom, whose father owns a local hardware store in the valley. John’s family is as “touched” in its way as Myra’s. Desire turns into violent possessiveness. Greene manipulates her narrative at this point so that Myra’s return to the mountain to raise twins Laura and Johnny without her husband goes unexplained. The twins’ accounts alternate in Part Two; Myra and then John narrate the novel’s final 100 pages. This fractured chronology builds suspense, allowing for red herrings and portentous foreshadowing like Myra’s box holding a ring with a man’s finger still attached. When their mother is placed in an insane asylum, the twins are sent to foster care. Laura marries, but her husband drowns, and his mother takes away their baby. Brilliant but troubled Johnny burns down the Odoms’ hardware store and seems headed for a bad end until he meets the mysterious Ford Hendrix, a reclusive Pulitzer Prize winner who once knew Myra and is missing a finger or two.

Pitch-perfect voices tell a story loaded with lyric suffering and redemption—bound to be a huge hit.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-26986-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2009

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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THE GREAT ALONE

In 1974, a troubled Vietnam vet inherits a house from a fallen comrade and moves his family to Alaska.

After years as a prisoner of war, Ernt Allbright returned home to his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, a violent, difficult, restless man. The family moved so frequently that 13-year-old Leni went to five schools in four years. But when they move to Alaska, still very wild and sparsely populated, Ernt finds a landscape as raw as he is. As Leni soon realizes, “Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now. If you wanted to pray to a weirdo god or live in a school bus or marry a goose, no one in Alaska was going to say crap to you.” There are many great things about this book—one of them is its constant stream of memorably formulated insights about Alaska. Another key example is delivered by Large Marge, a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who now runs the general store for the community of around 30 brave souls who live in Kaneq year-round. As she cautions the Allbrights, “Alaska herself can be Sleeping Beauty one minute and a bitch with a sawed-off shotgun the next. There’s a saying: Up here you can make one mistake. The second one will kill you.” Hannah’s (The Nightingale, 2015, etc.) follow-up to her series of blockbuster bestsellers will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet–like coming-of-age story, and domestic potboiler. She re-creates in magical detail the lives of Alaska's homesteaders in both of the state's seasons (they really only have two) and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America.

A tour de force.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-312-57723-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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