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THE ROCK EATERS

A sparkling, strange, and enthralling debut from a vivid new voice in contemporary fiction.

Sixteen genre-bending stories as substantial as they are superbly crafted.

Melding science fiction, fantasy, fable, and legend with atmospheric prose, these stories touch on a wide range of topics: immigration, race, climate change, the inexorable millennial hustle, influencers, gun culture, and the fraught, electric urgency of friendship between adolescent girls. In "Thoughts and Prayers," silent, guano-dripping angels preside over a suburban neighborhood, their "pale humanoid faces and downy bird bodies perched beside our chimneys," each believed to bring blessings or misfortune to the family that resides beneath it. "Yaiza" deftly examines class tensions and the myth of meritocracy against a backdrop of tennis court rivalry between two preteen girls: Yaiza, a "scholarship girl," and the narrator, whose family has hired Yaiza's grandmother as their latest housekeeper. In "The Great Escape," the narrator's great-aunt, spurred by paranoia brought on by Alzheimer's and a long-ago forced marriage to the nephew of Rafael Trujillo, locks herself in her apartment with increasingly intricate and impenetrable devices. Once an aspiring artist who was left with no medium to ply but the life and belongings she carefully curated, she now "lost things so diligently it was like a religion," as she herself is being erased by loss, time, greed, and, finally, disease. "The Kite Maker"—set 12 years after the arrival and widespread massacre of a buglike alien species that crash-landed on Earth after their home planet was destroyed by an asteroid—looks at xenophobia and personal and collective cruelty and responsibility in the aftermath of tectonic shifts to the old social order. And in "The Rock Eaters," a generation of Latin American island dwellers who, as adolescents, developed the ability to float, "discovering [they] could fly as far as [they]’d ever wanted," returns to their home island, bringing their foreign-born children and gifts for their parents of "fancy foreign clothes we...couldn’t really afford...to show them we’d been right all this time to have flown away." During their visit, some of the children begin to develop their own flying abilities, but unlike their parents, they tether themselves to their abandoned ancestral lives and land, eating rocks and soil to keep themselves from drifting away.

A sparkling, strange, and enthralling debut from a vivid new voice in contemporary fiction.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313562-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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THE GOD OF THE WOODS

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Many years after her older brother, Bear, went missing, Barbara Van Laar vanishes from the same sleepaway camp he did, leading to dark, bitter truths about her wealthy family.

One morning in 1975 at Camp Emerson—an Adirondacks summer camp owned by her family—it's discovered that 13-year-old Barbara isn't in her bed. A problem case whose unhappily married parents disdain her goth appearance and "stormy" temperament, Barbara is secretly known by one bunkmate to have slipped out every night after bedtime. But no one has a clue where's she permanently disappeared to, firing speculation that she was taken by a local serial killer known as Slitter. As Jacob Sluiter, he was convicted of 11 murders in the 1960s and recently broke out of prison. He's the one, people say, who should have been prosecuted for Bear's abduction, not a gardener who was framed. Leave it to the young and unproven assistant investigator, Judy Luptack, to press forward in uncovering the truth, unswayed by her bullying father and male colleagues who question whether women are "cut out for this work." An unsavory group portrait of the Van Laars emerges in which the children's father cruelly abuses their submissive mother, who is so traumatized by the loss of Bear—and the possible role she played in it—that she has no love left for her daughter. Picking up on the themes of families in search of themselves she explored in Long Bright River (2020), Moore draws sympathy to characters who have been subjected to spousal, parental, psychological, and physical abuse. As rich in background detail and secondary mysteries as it is, this ever-expansive, intricate, emotionally engaging novel never seems overplotted. Every piece falls skillfully into place and every character, major and minor, leaves an imprint.

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593418918

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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SANDWICH

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

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During an annual beach vacation, a mother confronts her past and learns to move forward.

Her family’s annual trip to Cape Cod is always the highlight of Rocky’s year—even more so now that her children are grown and she cherishes what little time she gets with them. Rocky is deep in the throes of menopause, picking fights with her loving husband and occasionally throwing off her clothes during a hot flash, much to the chagrin of her family. She’s also dealing with her parents, who are crammed into the same small summer house (with one toilet that only occasionally spews sewage everywhere) and who are aging at an alarmingly rapid rate. Rocky’s life is full of change, from her body to her identity—she frequently flashes back to the vacations of years past, when her children were tiny. Although she’s grateful for the family she has, she mourns what she’s lost. Newman (author of the equally wonderful We All Want Impossible Things, 2022) imbues Rocky’s internal struggles with importance and gravity, all while showcasing her very funny observations about life and parenting. She examines motherhood with a raw honesty that few others manage—she remembers the hard parts, the depths of despair, panic, and anxiety that can happen with young children, and she also recounts the joy in a way that never feels saccharine. She has a gift for exploring the real, messy contradictions in human emotions. As Rocky puts it, “This may be the only reason we were put on this earth. To say to each other, I know how you feel.”

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9780063345164

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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