Hauser's style is expressive, clever and compelling, and she offers readers a thoughtful and engaging debut.

READ REVIEW

THE FROM-AWAYS

Two young women trying to find their places in the world settle in a small coastal town in Maine and discover purpose, friendship and acceptance.

When Leah, a reporter, meets down-to-earth Henry Lynch in a New York City bar, she wastes no time resigning from her job, marrying him and moving into his family home in the small fishing community of Menamon. Leah’s filled with romantic notions about living an idyllic life and fitting in with the locals, but she soon discovers “from-aways” can’t easily dissolve barriers built by common roots and experiences. She also discovers there are things about Henry she doesn’t know and wonders if she fell in love with only the idea of him. Finding work at the Menamon Star, owned by her unfriendly sister-in-law, Leah meets wisecracking tough girl Quinn Winters, another recent transplant to the area. Quinn originally came to town to confront her father, Carter Marks, once a moderately successful folk singer who had an affair with her late mother, but she puts her plans on hold as she sorts through her different reactions to him. Instead, believing no one knows she’s his daughter, she remains in town, gets hired at the paper, falls in love with her roommate, and becomes a self-taught guitarist and songwriter. Quinn’s amateurish prose contrasts with Leah’s professional writing, but the two become drinking buddies and begin to collaborate on pieces. Soon they find themselves embroiled in a story about a building project that polarizes the townsfolk and threatens to change the nature of the entire community. Leah finds that her involvement might help her gain the acceptance she covets but could jeopardize her marriage. As events begin to spin out of control, debut novelist Hauser creates a palpable bond linking characters, readers, a community and a relevant political issue.

Hauser's style is expressive, clever and compelling, and she offers readers a thoughtful and engaging debut.

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-231075-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A gut-wrenching debut.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

MY DARK VANESSA

The #MeToo movement forces a struggling young woman to confront the abusive relationship that defines her sexual and romantic past.

At 15, Vanessa Wye falls for her English teacher at Browick, a private boarding school. Jacob Strane is 42, "big, broad, and so tall that his shoulders hunch as though his body wants to apologize for taking up so much space." Strane woos Vanessa with Nabokov's novels, Plath's poetry, and furtive caresses in his back office. "I think we're very similar, Nessa," Strane tells her during a one-on-one conference. "I can tell from the way you write that you're a dark romantic like me." Soon, Vanessa is reveling in her newfound power of attraction, pursuing sleepovers at Strane's house, and conducting what she feels is a secret affair right under the noses of the administration. More than 15 years later, at the height of the #MeToo movement, Taylor Birch, another young woman from Browick, publicly accuses Strane of sexual abuse. When a young journalist reaches out to Vanessa to corroborate Taylor's story, Vanessa's world begins to unravel. "Because even if I sometimes use the word abuse to describe certain things that were done to me, in someone else's mouth the word turns ugly and absolute....It swallows me and all the times I wanted it, begged for it," Vanessa tells herself. Russell weaves Vanessa's memories of high school together with the social media–saturated callout culture of the present moment, as Vanessa struggles to determine whether the love story she has told about herself is, in fact, a tragedy of unthinkable proportions. Russell's debut is a rich psychological study of the aftermath of abuse, and her novel asks readers both to take Vanessa's assertions of agency at face value and to determine the real, psychological harm perpetrated against her by an abusive adult. What emerges is a devastating cultural portrait of enablement and the harm we allow young women to shoulder. "The excuses we make for them are outrageous," Vanessa concludes about abusive men, "but they're nothing compared with the ones we make for ourselves."

A gut-wrenching debut.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294150-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

Traversing topics of love, race, and class, this emotionally complex novel speaks to—and may reverberate beyond—our troubled...

A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD

A riveting, potentially redemptive story of modern American suburbia that reads almost like an ancient Greek tragedy.

When the Whitmans, a nouveau riche white family, move into a sprawling, newly built house next door to Valerie Alston-Holt, a black professor of forestry and ecology, and her musically gifted, biracial 18-year-old son, Xavier, in a modest, diverse North Carolina neighborhood of cozy ranch houses on wooded lots, it is clear from the outset things will not end well. The neighborhood itself, which serves as the novel’s narrator and chorus, tells us so. The story begins on “a Sunday afternoon in May when our neighborhood is still maintaining its tenuous peace, a loose balance between old and new, us and them,” we are informed in the book’s opening paragraph. “Later this summer when the funeral takes place, the media will speculate boldly on who’s to blame.” The exact nature of the tragedy that has been foretold and questions of blame come into focus gradually as a series of events is set inexorably in motion when the Whitmans’ cloistered 17-year-old daughter, Juniper, encounters Xavier. The two teenagers tumble into a furtive, pure-hearted romance even as Xavier’s mom and Juniper’s stepfather, Brad, a slick operator who runs a successful HVAC business and has secrets of his own, lock horns in a legal battle over a dying tree. As the novel builds toward its devastating climax, it nimbly negotiates issues of race and racism, class and gentrification, sex and sexual violence, environmental destruction and other highly charged topics. Fowler (A Well-Behaved Woman, 2018, etc.) empathetically conjures nuanced characters we won’t soon forget, expertly weaves together their stories, and imbues the plot with a sense of inevitability and urgency. In the end, she offers an opportunity for catharsis as well as a heartfelt, hopeful call to action.

Traversing topics of love, race, and class, this emotionally complex novel speaks to—and may reverberate beyond—our troubled times.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23727-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more