A masterwork that should cement Bina (and Schofield) as one of the great voices in recent fiction.

BINA

A NOVEL IN WARNINGS

An elderly woman in western Ireland holds up her life as a cautionary tale.

Partway through the tale told by Schofield’s garrulous 74-year-old narrator, she reflects on what her story could be if she were a woman with plenty of time left to her: “She’d lace up paragraphs that would absorb you and you’d believe her, because you’re easy this way. I am not that woman. I’m not easy.” She’s right: Bina and her story are anything but easy. The story of her later life unspools, often meandering down the page in broken lines like poetry (an effect achieved because she’s partly writing on the backs of receipts and bills) and including footnotes for digressions. Bina is especially concerned with warning readers not to end up as she did after helping a man—the bullying Eddie—who ruined her life the day he landed in a ditch on her property after a motorcycle accident. She tells of her unwitting role as a kind of counterculture icon to a group of young radicals she calls “the Crusties” after being jailed for hitting an airplane with a hammer during a protest. (She was thinking of Eddie.) And she speaks of her secret work with a dying-with-dignity group and the adjacent grief it brings into her life, especially when a much-loved friend is involved. But the plot, emerging in fits and starts, is really beside the point: Schofield pulls off such a virtuosic feat of voice that Bina’s utterances, by turns aphoristic and rambling, grief-soaked and mordantly funny, haul the reader through the book, as immersive as being trapped inside her rural kitchen with the kettle on.

A masterwork that should cement Bina (and Schofield) as one of the great voices in recent fiction.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68137-549-6

Page Count: 328

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Unlike baseball, basketball has contributed little to world literature. Call this Exhibit A.

SOOLEY

Legal eagle and mystery maven Grisham shifts gears with a novel about roundball.

What possessed Grisham to stop writing about murder in the Spanish moss–dripping milieus of the Deep South is anyone’s guess, and why he elected to write about basketball, one might imagine, speaks to some deep passion for the game. The depth of that love doesn’t quite emerge in these pages, flat of affect, told almost as if a by-the-numbers biography of an actual player. As it is, Grisham invents an all-too-believable hero in Samuel Sooleymon, who plays his way out of South Sudan, a nation wrought by sectarian violence—Sooley is a Dinka, Grisham instructs, of “the largest ethnic class in the country,” pitted against other ethnic groups—and mired in poverty despite the relative opulence of the capital city of Juba, with its “tall buildings, vibrancy, and well-dressed people.” A hard-charging but heart-of-gold coach changes his life when he arrives at the university there, having been dismissed earlier as a “nonshooting guard.” Soon enough Sooley is sinking three-pointers with alarming precision, which lands him a spot on an American college team. Much of the later portion of Grisham’s novel bounces between Sooley’s on-court exploits, jaw-dropping as they are, and his efforts to bring his embattled family, now refugees from civil war, to join him in the U.S.; explains Grisham, again, “Beatrice and her children were Dinka, the largest tribe in South Sudan, and their strongman was supposedly in control of most of the country,” though evidently not the part where they lived. Alas, Sooley, beloved of all, bound for a glorious career in the NBA, falls into the bad company that sudden wealth and fame can bring, and it all comes crashing down in a morality play that has only the virtue of bringing this tired narrative to an end.

Unlike baseball, basketball has contributed little to world literature. Call this Exhibit A.

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-54768-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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The most comforting of comfort-food reading—with a few chills for fun.

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LEGACY

Roberts sticks to formula in this romantic thriller—which should please fans and newcomers alike.

The only daughter of a woman with a wildly successful fitness company, 7-year-old Adrian Rizzo is used to traveling with her mother for videos and photo shoots, the child star of the brand. But everything changes one night when a man breaks into their house, confronts her mother for destroying his marriage, and then dies in a fall down the stairs. Adrian spends the summer with her beloved grandparents, enjoying the idyllic pace of small-town life and making some strong connections. Several years later, teenage Adrian gains the confidence to start her own business with the help of some high school misfits who become her best friends. Fast-forward a few years: Adrian’s grandmother dies in an accident followed by the death of a friend's wife. Adrian decides to move in with her grandfather and to finally make a home. As frequently happens in Roberts’ novels, Adrian's friends all end up living nearby, and they create a loyal, loving network that sees them all through marriage, birth, loss, success, and the other touchstones of maturity. In the background lurks a threat, though: For years, Adrian has been receiving disturbing letters signed only "The Poet," and they begin to arrive more frequently. Adrian’s perfect, messy, successful life—and blossoming relationship—may be in danger from this psychopath, but her friends and family will be there to support and protect her to the happiest of endings. If you're a fan of Roberts’ thrillers, the structure of this novel will bring few surprises, but the familiarity is comforting. Roberts’ strength has always been her ability to create likable, complex characters, and this crew is even more appealing than most—they are never whiny in insecurity or snobbish in success; rather, they provide unwavering support for each other’s ups and downs.

The most comforting of comfort-food reading—with a few chills for fun.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7293-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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