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

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DEVOLUTION

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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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

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