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CLEMMIE

A young woman with no memory of her history or how she got to Still Waters Mental Hospital struggles to uncover the traumas of her past and solve the mystery of who she is.

Shelburne’s novel opens with the central mystery of the title character as she undergoes intensive therapy to discover why she has no memories of her life. Shelburne expertly weaves a complicated narrative through a series of flashbacks; readers are guided through Clemmie’s life as she recovers her missing memories and as she experiences the harsh realities of life in a mental hospital. As a child, Clemmie moves from Chicago to Savannah, Ga., with her mother and new stepfather, Roy. There she meets Daniel, a boy who becomes her best friend despite the fact that she is white and he is black, and they live in the contentious ’60s South. But Clemmie is destined for a life of tragedy, and it may be that the loss of Daniel is a memory that she doesn’t want to remember. Later, Clemmie’s family moves to Hilton Head, S.C., where Clemmie spends her teen years, and tragedy is again ever-present in her life. The book reads as a love letter to the South in many ways, and Shelburne describes the beauty of the distinctive coastal region in wonderful detail. As Clemmie remembers more of her past, drawing ever closer to the mystery of how she arrived at Still Waters, several characters emerge to populate her life. From Mama Rae, the mysterious woman who lives in the woods and practices voodoo, to Addie Jo, a malicious home-wrecker, to Jimmy Castlebrook, a man who may just be the love of Clemmie’s life, every character is rendered with unique details. At times, however, it feels as if characters come and go too frequently, a symptom of the scope of the story. Since the novel spans most of Clemmie’s life, it often moves along at a hurried pace, and moments and characters that should be lingered over are passed by too quickly in favor of advancing the story along. Likewise, emotional moments that should have a significant effect on Clemmie’s life sometimes feel glossed over and not fully explored. A fluid narrative that weaves through memory and time and an in-depth character study of a woman’s journey to recover herself.   

 

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2012

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z(2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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