An amusing satire of self-discovery in the form of a madcap misadventure tale.



A college junior literally loses his life and must find a new one in this debut magical realism novel.

After a raging party in his fraternity the night before, Doug wakes up to discover that his life, which he keeps in a Tupperware container, has spoiled after being unceremoniously left out of the fridge all night. Things quickly go downhill from there when his stereotypically hot-but-dumb cheerleader girlfriend, Sarah, dumps him, and Doug knows it will only get worse for his much-prized social standing if his frat brothers discover he’s become a lifeless loser. Thus begins Doug’s quest to “get a life” in this self-aware story that takes that expression literally. But where does one get a life? Gerrard explores this question in varied forms but always with a bent toward the ludicrous that nonetheless grows from an insightful seed of truth. Can Doug revert to his pre-college life or get a new existence at Walmart? Can he somehow re-create the one he lost? And if he accomplishes any of those options, will that really be the life he wants? Guided—or perhaps goaded—along the plot by the author (much to Doug’s fourth-wall–breaking annoyance), the protagonist seeks the advice of a Roma and is both helped and hindered by a cast that includes a young girl from an insane asylum, a troll with a trowel, and an invisible being sporting a pair of green pants. Pursued by vindictive frat brothers and afraid of being spotted without a life—especially by the nerdy girl on campus that he won’t admit he has a crush on—Doug traverses a landscape littered with allusions to similarly manic tales as he eagerly tracks and then recalcitrantly confronts the dreaded life lessons. Though the book never manages to match the cleverness of the material that inspires it, readers should still chuckle at Doug’s struggles and find much to enjoy in the character’s growth as he reluctantly realizes his story is one of self-discovery. But whether or not he’ll get a life in time to save his carefully manicured social position, Doug doesn’t know. As the author interjects early on when his protagonist feels a moment of optimism: Doug clearly didn’t read ahead.

An amusing satire of self-discovery in the form of a madcap misadventure tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017


Page Count: -

Publisher: REUTS Publications

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed...

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Trying his final case at 85, celebrated criminal defense lawyer Sandy Stern defends a Nobel-winning doctor and longtime friend whose cancer wonder drug saved Stern's life but subsequently led to the deaths of others.

Federal prosecutors are charging the eminent doctor, Kiril Pafko, with murder, fraud, and insider trading. An Argentine émigré like Stern, Pafko is no angel. His counselor is certain he sold stock in the company that produced the drug, g-Livia, before users' deaths were reported. The 78-year-old Nobelist is a serial adulterer whose former and current lovers have strong ties to the case. Working for one final time alongside his daughter and proficient legal partner, Marta, who has announced she will close the firm and retire along with her father following the case, Stern must deal not only with "senior moments" before Chief Judge Sonya "Sonny" Klonsky, but also his physical frailty. While taking a deep dive into the ups and downs of a complicated big-time trial, Turow (Testimony, 2017, etc.) crafts a love letter to his profession through his elegiac appreciation of Stern, who has appeared in all his Kindle County novels. The grandly mannered attorney (his favorite response is "Just so") has dedicated himself to the law at great personal cost. But had he not spent so much of his life inside courtrooms, "He never would have known himself." With its bland prosecutors, frequent focus on technical details like "double-blind clinical trials," and lack of real surprises, the novel likely will disappoint some fans of legal thrillers. But this smoothly efficient book gains timely depth through its discussion of thorny moral issues raised by a drug that can extend a cancer sufferer's life expectancy at the risk of suddenly ending it.

A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed Innocent.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4813-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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