A sweet, sympathetic novel with a sense of humor.

GLIDING FLIGHT

A teenage boy trains his pet geese surrounded by a cast of characters even more eccentric than he is.

It’s the present day, more or less, and we’re in the Netherlands. Gieles is almost 15. His mother has been gone for months on yet another vague mission of aid to Africa. Gieles and his father wait at home, with Uncle Fred, next door to an airport runway that has been steadily taking over the neighborhood. Gieles’ father works for the airport, shooing away the flocks of birds that threaten to cause accidents. Gieles’ personal hero is Capt. Sully, who miraculously landed a plane after a number of geese tangled themselves up in its engines. This is Goemans’ second novel, her first to be translated into English. It’s a funny, tenderhearted book reminiscent of Little Miss Sunshine—it has a similar cast of lost, confused, and eccentric characters. Gieles befriends an overweight older neighbor who calls himself Super Waling and who soon starts sharing with Gieles chapters of a story he’s writing. Super Waling’s story concerns his own ancestors but also the larger Dutch history of reclaiming land from water. Gieles, meanwhile, is trying to train his two pet geese to perform a secret feat of heroics so impressive it will convince his wayward mother to stay home. Goemans occasionally skates a little too close to sentimentality, and not all her characters come equally to life (Gieles’ silent, stoic father, for one), but still, the novel is a wonderful mix of humor and gentle melancholy. Gieles is a compassionate boy, and he seems to draw wounded people toward him in the same way that he draws forward his geese. We’d be lucky to have more like him in this world.

A sweet, sympathetic novel with a sense of humor.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64286-008-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: World Editions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more