by Ann-Marie MacDonald ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 14, 2015
Despite the too-neat Freudian implications of Mary Rose’s story, this is an affecting, multilayered account of domestic...
Assaulted by mysterious pains and bracketed by painful childhood memories, Mary Rose MacKinnon engages in power struggles with her willful toddler and endures the stresses of stay-at-home parenting while her partner, Hilary, is out of town.
An acclaimed young-adult novelist, Mary Rose is suffering from severe writer’s block, unable to complete the third volume in her popular series. Despite the surface comforts of life in her liberal, upper-middle-class Toronto enclave, she feels an inexplicable sense of alienation from her environment; she distances herself from the other mothers at her child’s preschool and avoids communication with her own parents, despite their belated acceptance of her homosexuality and loving acceptance of Hilary and their grandchildren. When Mary Rose’s charming Lebanese mother, Dolly, was younger, she had numerous miscarriages, stillbirths and babies who died shortly after birth, and she seems to be fixating on this tragic period many decades later. The effect of this sad legacy on family dynamics has never been fully explored, and Mary Rose has many vague, unspoken questions about her own childhood, the answers to which might help explain her emotional paralysis and phantom arm pains, as well as the mysterious bone cysts she suffered as a young girl. MacDonald (The Way the Crow Flies, 2004, etc.) integrates three narratives into this novel—Mary Rose’s mundane day-to-day existence, Dolly’s experience of severe depression as a young mother lamenting her lost babies, and Mary Rose’s novels, which parallel elements of her own family story distorted through the lens of teen fantasy fiction. While clever, the novel within the novel seems a bit forced. There is a recurring theme of impostors and doppelgängers and a shrewd twinning motif, but the reader is always conscious of the writer’s craft. Of the three, Dolly’s story is the most naturalistically and sensitively portrayed.Despite the too-neat Freudian implications of Mary Rose’s story, this is an affecting, multilayered account of domestic ennui and the painful effects of long-held secrets on three generations.
Pub Date: April 14, 2015
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Tin House
Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015
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by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2014
Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson.
Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty.Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.
Pub Date: March 18, 2014
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015
Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.
In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014
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