Bleak, beautiful, and incredibly powerful.


A woman, dying of cancer, reflects on her unhappy childhood.

The first novel to be published in English by Chilean author Lloret opens on a sunny morning, but there’s not much light in this lovely yet tragic book. It follows the title character, who is dying of cancer, as she reflects on her singularly unhappy childhood. Nancy was raised by a feckless father and a mother who subjected her and her brother, Pato, to horrific abuse, savagely beating them and telling Nancy things like “I wish you’d been born dead dead dead….Not even Pato came out as big and ugly as you, you little bitch.” Her brother later disappeared outside of a nightclub, leaving Nancy to bear the brunt of her mother’s viciousness. Nancy’s mother eventually abandoned her family, and her father converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; they lived together, almost always on the brink of poverty, at one point resorting to grave robbing to find jewelry to sell. Nancy later married Tim, a man several years her senior, but he had problems of his own; Nancy notes that “rum and Teletrak betting took my husband from me.” Still, she loved him, and was distraught after he was killed in a work accident while drunk. Recalling the long-term trauma that was her childhood, Nancy reflects on the disease that’s quickly killing her: “Knowing you’re going to die is horrible not just because you don’t want to die, but also because there’s always some residual, surviving doubt.” Lloret’s novel is obviously bleak beyond measure, but it’s also quite beautiful thanks to his self-assured and ethereal prose—after Nancy tells Tim that she’s dying, the two “[stare] at each other like divers underwater, sunk in uncertainty.” Lloret employs unusual typography, punctuating the book with a series of bold X’s; the effect is jarring but powerful, reminding the reader of Nancy’s impending fate. This is a gorgeous novel from a writer unafraid to consider the darkness; it’s hard to read but beyond rewarding.

Bleak, beautiful, and incredibly powerful.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949641-12-7

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Two Lines Press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.


The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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