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GRENADINE AND OTHER LOVE AFFAIRS

POEMS

An intricate gem of a poetic debut.

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Grace’s debut poetry collection ponders language and meaning.

“I wrote this book because I am interested in how meaning is created,” writes the author in her preface to this new collection. For this emerging poet, meaning is found in the mechanics of human language—specifically word choice and placement—and in the quest to make sense of oneself and the world. The collection is divided into nine sections bearing intriguing, unusual titles, including “Esemplastic,” “Limn,” and “Invariance.” Each section contains a series of poems without titles, numbered in roman numerals. Grace employs a range of poetic forms, from common meter to haiku and pantoums. Some poems contemplate how our relationships with others impact our own identity: “If you are the center of my map—where / am I?” Others consider the act of writing itself: “These marks are a compendium of miscellany / a narrative—translucent, pre-existing and replete.” At the close of some sections, the author includes a “Lyric Glossary” in which she poetically reexamines and reframes specific terms she has used. Grace’s poetry is laden with sensuous imagery: “Ignominious fruit of that garden / my carmine lips, your garnet desire.” The most compelling aspect of this ingenious body of verse is the poet’s determination to excavate ever deeper layers of meaning; Grace returns to the word carmine in her Lyric Glossary, recalling, “a rich red to crimson pigment…I bought a dress that made my skin look like cream and my hair look like amber. / I bought it so that your hands on my waist would look like intent—and they did.” The poet moves beyond cold definitions, adding not only personal significance to the term but pinning it to one intimate moment. She poignantly captures how meaning shifts with time: “a vivid red…I still own that dress. It is packed in a box with other things that don’t fit me anymore.” The poet also demonstrates notable technical prowess, as when priming a villanelle to deliver the powerfully philosophical, doubled-barreled refrain: “What arterial conspiracy was this, aromatic and dusty, rife with pulse and power? / The victor builds the world around himself, calls the edges nothing, the center a flower.” This is the work of an alarming talent.

An intricate gem of a poetic debut.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781945049354

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Shadelandhouse Modern Press

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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