An illuminating, warmhearted souvenir of a tumultuous era.

ALL YOUR RACIAL PROBLEMS WILL SOON END

THE CARTOONS OF CHARLES JOHNSON

A portrait of the novelist as a young artist.

Before he became an award-winning fiction writer, Johnson was a professional gag cartoonist and was so well respected at the trade that he hosted a how-to-draw TV series for a PBS station. This anthology is a compilation of both previously anthologized drawings and some never before included in book form. It doubles as both gallery and memoir, as the chronologically arranged drawings (beginning with a 1965 “pictorial resume” from his senior year at Evanston High School in Illinois) are interspersed with passages by the author describing his growth from a childhood so obsessed with drawing pictures on a home blackboard that “my knees and the kitchen floor were covered with layers of chalk” to contributing cartoons first to his college newspaper at Southern Illinois University and eventually to the Chicago Tribune and to gaining the attention of John H. Johnson, legendary publisher of such Black-oriented magazines as Ebony, Jet, and Negro Digest (later Black World). The cartoons are blunt, in-your-face, and, often, still funny-and-fresh lampoons of racial mores and manners. The earlier ones from the late 1960s through early ’70s reflect the post–civil rights era militancy and conflicts with the police. In one, one Black man says to another, “You’d be surprised how many people mistake me for [Black Power advocate] H. Rap Brown” as they’re walking down a city street while, just behind them, a cordon of armed-and-uniformed Whites make their way toward them. In another, two Black men are in a car pulled over by a White motorcycle cop as one says to the other, “Look moderate.” In another, one freshly minted Black college graduate says to another, “Well, I guess now I’ll see if Standard Oil or the Bank of America needs a consultant with a degree in Black History.” For those with knowledge or memories of that latter topic, these crafty single-panel drawings resonate with rueful nostalgia, roughhousing wit, and, as noted earlier, some eerie convergences with present-day turmoil. Now, as then, Johnson’s efforts here are intended to soothe with drollness as much as sting with recognition. “Like the best haiku,” he writes, “where a thought or feeling is perfectly expressed in just a few lines and is instantly understood, a well-done cartoon can often lead to an epiphany or ‘Aha!’ moment of laughter and sudden insight.”

An illuminating, warmhearted souvenir of a tumultuous era.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68137-673-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: New York Review Comics

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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