The confessions of a teenage struggler who just needs some time to figure it all out.


An orphan has an eventful week when he’s suspended from school.

This new book by Carr (Sip, 2017, etc.) is painful to read but wonderfully crafted and artfully poignant in its reflection of our times. The narrator is 17-year-old Riggle Quick, the Holden Caulfield of a rural Indiana in the depths of the opioid crisis and the racism empowered by the president of the United States. First, Riggle gets suspended because some jerk in his high school turns in a THC vaporizer, claiming it’s his. He spends the rest of his week of suspension exploring the peculiar world he’s trapped in, having been sent there from Texas after his parents died. He sees Black Panther with his best friend, Bennet, but first has to shave Bennet’s head because he’s biracial and is just light enough to pass without his Afro, so he won't get hassled by the cops for cutting school. We learn Riggle’s dad was a truck driver who died in a crash, and while it’s not called out, it looks like mom OD’ed. Riggle has the hots for his aunt (by marriage) Peggy, but he’s also been charged with finding his Uncle Joe, a junkie who’s gone missing. Riggle’s poignant, candid narration is punctuated by that of Remote, a shadow-puppet bird invented by his mother who tells Riggle fables about how each day of his lousy week was named. The most delightful sections come when Riggle, who doesn’t know what the hell he wants to do with his life, barges into a restaurant called Broth and convinces the caustic chef to take him on as a dishwasher. There’s also serious, painful stuff here: “Sometimes you feel so terrible that all you know is that you need something, and when people feel that way, they go out looking,” says Riggle. Finally, Carr slips in a great word here that Riggle borrows from a Latina friend in Texas who asked him the first day, “You a smuggler or a struggler?”

The confessions of a teenage struggler who just needs some time to figure it all out.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64129-078-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A deeply satisfying novel, both sensuously vivid and remarkably poignant.


Norwegian novelist Jacobsen folds a quietly powerful coming-of-age story into a rendition of daily life on one of Norway’s rural islands a hundred years ago in a novel that was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.

Ingrid Barrøy, her father, Hans, mother, Maria, grandfather Martin, and slightly addled aunt Barbro are the owners and sole inhabitants of Barrøy Island, one of numerous small family-owned islands in an area of Norway barely touched by the outside world. The novel follows Ingrid from age 3 through a carefree early childhood of endless small chores, simple pleasures, and unquestioned familial love into her more ambivalent adolescence attending school off the island and becoming aware of the outside world, then finally into young womanhood when she must make difficult choices. Readers will share Ingrid’s adoration of her father, whose sense of responsibility conflicts with his romantic nature. He adores Maria, despite what he calls her “la-di-da” ways, and is devoted to Ingrid. Twice he finds work on the mainland for his sister, Barbro, but, afraid she’ll be unhappy, he brings her home both times. Rooted to the land where he farms and tied to the sea where he fishes, Hans struggles to maintain his family’s hardscrabble existence on an island where every repair is a struggle against the elements. But his efforts are Sisyphean. Life as a Barrøy on Barrøy remains precarious. Changes do occur in men’s and women’s roles, reflected in part by who gets a literal chair to sit on at meals, while world crises—a war, Sweden’s financial troubles—have unexpected impact. Yet the drama here occurs in small increments, season by season, following nature’s rhythm through deaths and births, moments of joy and deep sorrow. The translator’s decision to use roughly translated phrases in conversation—i.e., “Tha’s goen’ nohvar” for "You’re going nowhere")—slows the reading down at first but ends up drawing readers more deeply into the world of Barrøy and its prickly, intensely alive inhabitants.

A deeply satisfying novel, both sensuously vivid and remarkably poignant.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77196-319-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Biblioasis

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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