by Anthony Varallo ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 15, 2019
A darkly cutting investigation of dysfunction in which the kids, more often than not, are way sharper than the parents.
Against the backdrop of the 1970s gasoline crisis, members of a mid-Atlantic family identified only as the father, the mother, the boy, and the girl struggle with separation and its attendant fears in this debut novel.
"When things separate, they double," the kids discover after their distant father moves into his own apartment and, soon enough, begins sharing it with a waitress from a local restaurant. Suddenly, the boy and girl have two homes, two mother figures, and two beds. (The boy, exceptionally bright for a 7-year-old, thinks he dreams differently in the full-size than in the twin.) When their overwhelmed mother becomes involved with a drab man named Cliff, the boy and his nearly 10-year-old sister have Marcus, Cliff's spouting-off adolescent son, to contend with. Quietly unsettling details accrue: The sleepless girl hears repetitions of “how? how? how?” in her brother's oscillating room fan; the boy hears car crashes outside his bedroom window a year after two teens in the area died in an accident; the children's margarita-drinking Florida grandmother tosses off casually hurtful remarks. A master of narrative control, Varallo (Everyone Was There, 2017, etc.) creates the kind of page-turning suspense you don't expect in a book like this. Potential dangers abound: the creepy guy on the bicycle the girl keeps spotting; the gas-powered mower the boy teaches himself to use, on his own; Marcus' fondness for setting things on fire. The resilient children will emerge wiser and stronger from their ordeals. That likely won't be the case with their misguided parents, who don't know how to stop running on empty.A darkly cutting investigation of dysfunction in which the kids, more often than not, are way sharper than the parents.
Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2019
Page Count: 230
Publisher: Univ. of Iowa
Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019
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by Lisa Jewell ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 24, 2018
Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.
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
Page Count: 368
Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018
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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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