A John Wayne hero, multiple appreciations of the Colt Model 1911 and a cowboy-gets-the-girl romance in one readable package.

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THUNDER AND RAIN

Out in west Texas, Tyler Steele, retired Texas Ranger, wife locked in rehab, must make sense of a life undone.

Martin’s (Where the River Ends, 2008, etc.) latest is a tale of love, loyalty, loss and unexpected reconciliation, topped off by ample violence. Driving through a foggy Texas night, Ty narrowly avoids a collision with a battered station wagon carrying Samantha Dyson and her young daughter Hope. Ty offers help. They are wary and resentful, but Ty gets their clunker running and shepherds them to a truck stop. Ty’s Ranger instincts tell him mother and daughter are running from trouble, a hunch proved true when a rogue San Antonio police officer, once Sam’s lover, attempts a kidnapping. Ty subdues him, but hears, “I’ll hunt you. Find you. Rid you of whatever or whoever you love.” Sam has a sister in New Orleans, and Ty drives them there, but the sister’s gone without a trace. Sam and Hope are in danger, and so Ty, duty and honor incarnate, brings them to his Texas ranch. Told from Ty’s point of view, with Hope’s letters to God offering outside perspective, the narrative covers Ty’s early life with his heroic father, his love for his young son Brodie, the collapse of his world after his wife took up drugs, expensive habits and a lover, and the painful knowledge his marriage failed because of his emotional isolation. Martin writes glowingly about Texas, about Rangers and their ethos, about merciless evil in the world and about the fragile bond between man and woman and the blood bond between father and son. Ty helps Sam escape her pursuer, but the story veers off when Ty’s wife is released from rehab, becoming something of an odd but entertaining hybrid of James Lee Burke's morality tales and Nicholas Sparks' sentimental journeys.

A John Wayne hero, multiple appreciations of the Colt Model 1911 and a cowboy-gets-the-girl romance in one readable package.

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4555-0398-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Center Street/Hachette

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in...

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LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

This incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright.

It’s not for nothing that Ng (Everything I Never Told You, 2014) begins her second novel, about the events leading to the burning of the home of an outwardly perfect-seeming family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, circa 1997, with two epigraphs about the planned community itself—attesting to its ability to provide its residents with “protection forever against…unwelcome change” and “a rather happy life” in Utopia. But unwelcome change is precisely what disrupts the Richardson family’s rather happy life, when Mia, a charismatic, somewhat mysterious artist, and her smart, shy 15-year-old daughter, Pearl, move to town and become tenants in a rental house Mrs. Richardson inherited from her parents. Mia and Pearl live a markedly different life from the Richardsons, an affluent couple and their four high school–age children—making art instead of money (apart from what little they need to get by); rooted in each other rather than a particular place (packing up what fits in their battered VW and moving on when “the bug” hits); and assembling a hodgepodge home from creatively repurposed, scavenged castoffs and love rather than gathering around them the symbols of a successful life in the American suburbs (a big house, a large family, gleaming appliances, chic clothes, many cars). What really sets Mia and Pearl apart and sets in motion the events leading to the “little fires everywhere” that will consume the Richardsons’ secure, stable world, however, is the way they hew to their own rules. In a place like Shaker Heights, a town built on plans and rules, and for a family like the Richardsons, who have structured their lives according to them, disdain for conformity acts as an accelerant, setting fire to the dormant sparks within them. The ultimate effect is cataclysmic. As in Everything I Never Told You, Ng conjures a sense of place and displacement and shows a remarkable ability to see—and reveal—a story from different perspectives. The characters she creates here are wonderfully appealing, and watching their paths connect—like little trails of flame leading inexorably toward one another to create a big inferno—is mesmerizing, casting into new light ideas about creativity and consumerism, parenthood and privilege.

With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in America.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2429-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

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IN FIVE YEARS

After acing a job interview and accepting a marriage proposal, Dannie Kohan has had the perfect day. That is, until she awakens to find herself five years in the future with a completely different man.

Just one hour in that alternate reality shakes Dannie to her core. After all, highly ambitious Dannie and her boyfriend, David, have plotted out their lives in minute detail, and the sexy man in her dream—was it a dream?—is most certainly not in the script. Serle (The Dinner List, 2018) deftly spins these magical threads into Dannie’s perfectly structured life, leaving not only Dannie, but also the reader wondering whether Dannie time traveled or hallucinated. Her best friend, Bella, would delight in the story given that she thinks Dannie is much too straight-laced, and some spicy dreaming might push Dannie to find someone more passionate than David. Unfortunately, glamorous Bella is in Europe with her latest lover. Ever pragmatic, Dannie consults her therapist, who almost concurs that it was likely a dream, and throws herself into her work. Pleased to have landed the job at a prestigious law firm, Dannie easily loses her worries in litigation. Soon four and a half years have passed with no wedding date set, and Bella is back in the U.S. with a new man in her life. A man who turns out to be literally the man of Dannie’s dream. The sheer fact of Aaron Gregory’s existence forces Dannie to reevaluate her trust in the laws of physics as well as her decision to marry David, a decision that seems less believable with each passing day. And as the architecture of Dannie’s overplanned life disintegrates, Serle twists and twines the remnants of her dream into a surprising future.

A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3744-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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