A moving, funny, and ultimately hopeful look at what makes life meaningful.

THE BIG FINISH

In Fossey's debut, a grumpy assisted living resident realizes his life still has surprises in store.

Duffy Sinclair, 88, knows he didn’t make the most of his life. He spent years of it as an alcoholic, but in his sober old age he’s finally found a home at Centennial, an assisted living facility. He has a best friend—his roommate, Carl, who shares everything with him. He has crushes and nemeses and playful banter with the staff members. Things are perfect—except that Centennial’s new owner will use any excuse to kick residents out so she can rent their rooms for more money, leaving them no option but a poorly run nursing home. Duffy tries to be on his best behavior and stay in line—but then a young woman tumbles through his window. It turns out she’s Carl’s granddaughter—one Duffy never knew he had. She has a black eye, an alcohol problem, and nowhere to stay—and Carl thinks she should camp out in their room. Duffy knows that getting caught hiding an alcoholic 20-something would earn him an immediate one-way ticket out of Centennial, and at first he tells Carl and Josie no way. But as he gets to know Josie and see the kind of pain he knows all too well, Duffy realizes he might finally have a chance to make up for all those wasted years. Duffy is cantankerous, gruff, and occasionally unkind, but his head is always an entertaining place to be. It’s clear that he cares deeply about his friends and fellow Centennial residents, and it’s impossible not to root for him. Fossey manages to depict the struggles of the elderly, whose concerns aren’t often examined in fiction, in a way that’s both respectful and entertaining.

A moving, funny, and ultimately hopeful look at what makes life meaningful.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0493-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An engaging, well-researched, and sometimes thought-provoking art mystery.

BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN

A tale of two artists, living 78 years apart in a small Southern town, and the third artist who links them.

The fates of two white painters in Edenton, North Carolina, intertwine with the legacy of a third, that of Jesse Jameson Williams, a prominent African American artist with Edenton roots. In 2018, the recently deceased Jesse has left a very unusual will. In life, Jesse paid his success forward by helping underdog artists. Morgan Christopher, the last, posthumous recipient of Jesse’s largesse, can’t imagine why he chose her, a complete stranger who is doing time for an alcohol-related crash that left another driver paralyzed. Released on an early parole engineered by Jesse’s daughter, Lisa, Morgan will receive $50,000 to restore a mural painted by one Anna Dale in 1940 in time for a gallery opening on Aug. 5, 2018. If Morgan misses this deadline, not only is her deal off, but Lisa will, due to a puzzling, thinly motivated condition of Jesse’s will, lose her childhood home. In an alternating narrative, Anna, winner of a U.S. Treasury Department competition, has been sent from her native New Jersey to paint a mural for the Edenton post office. Anna has zero familiarity with the South, particularly with Jim Crow. She recognizes Jesse’s exceptional talent and mentors him, to the ire of Edenton’s white establishment. Martin Drapple, a local portraitist rejected in the competition, is at first a good sport, when he’s sober, until, somewhat too suddenly, he’s neither. Issues of addiction and mental illness are foremost in both past and present. Anna’s late mother had manic episodes. Morgan’s estranged parents are unrepentant boozers. And Anna’s mural of civic pride is decidedly strange. One of the strengths here is the creditable depiction of the painter’s process, in Anna’s case, and the restorer’s art, in Morgan’s. Despite the fraught circumstances challenging all three painters, conflict is lacking. The 1940 racial tensions are unrealistically mild, and Jesse’s testamentary testiness is not mined for its full stakes-raising potential.

An engaging, well-researched, and sometimes thought-provoking art mystery.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-08733-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A tale about surmounting life’s most difficult moments and finding hope when one least expects it.

BEFORE AND AGAIN

A young woman loses her daughter in a car accident and struggles to build a new life for herself in the aftermath of tragedy.

Mackenzie Cooper was driving her 5-year-old daughter to a play date when she missed a stop sign and collided with another car, killing both the other driver and her own daughter. A few years later, after Mackenzie has been divorced by her husband, dropped by her friends, disowned by her mother, and dragged through the mud by the press, she has finally created a quiet existence for herself. She lives in the sleepy town of Devon, Vermont, with two cats and a dog and works as a makeup artist at the spa in a local inn. She's changed her name to Maggie Reid, and almost no one in Devon knows about the accident or the probation officer who's been keeping tabs on her since that fateful day. Everything changes for Maggie the day her new friend Grace’s son is criminally charged with high-profile computer hacking, bringing the press swarming to Devon and dredging up many painful memories for Maggie. Worse yet, when Maggie accompanies Grace to meet with an attorney, they bump into Maggie’s ex-husband, Edward. Maggie learns that Edward has purchased the inn where she works, and he is moving to Devon. As Edward reaches out to Maggie with one overture after another, it quickly becomes apparent that the inn is not the only reason her ex was drawn to this particular town. Before she can reconcile with Edward, however, Maggie must find a way to accept the person she was before the accident and forgive herself for her past. Through a fast-paced and accessible narrative voice, Delinsky tackles many weighty issues in this complicated tale of friendship, loss, love, and redemption.

A tale about surmounting life’s most difficult moments and finding hope when one least expects it.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-11949-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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