A haunting, powerful look at the professional and personal life of a nurse through poetry.

I HEAR THEIR VOICES SINGING

POEMS NEW & SELECTED

A nurse practitioner and experienced writer offers a collection of poems.

Davis opens her volume of free-verse poetry with scenes of her nursing life: She stabs oranges with needles, washes urine from skin, and views an autopsy. Her observations reveal patients at their most vulnerable moments: a 16-year-old girl and her mother arguing about whether or not the teen will terminate her pregnancy; a 12-year-old rape survivor asking if she is still a virgin. The poet shows readers the most horrific cases of an intensive care unit: an abused baby, a boy hit by a car, a drowned child. She also delves into her own family, describing her mother’s funeral in one poem and her father’s death in another. In “March 28, 2001 / March 28, 1945,” the poet imagines how her mother felt, 56 years earlier, when she was pregnant with her while Davis’ father swept land mines in Italy. In “Becoming the Patient,” the poet’s professional and personal worlds collide as she confronts “the haze of could-die / could-get-better” during an epic hospital stay. Davis’ visceral language will seer into readers’ brains and evoke images more vivid than a medical documentary. She describes patients’ “crescendo of moans like sweet violins,” how a woman’s legs “jut up like ghosts” beneath the sheets, the way a tongue can turn into “a bed of coals” with fever, and how a woman who lost her lung function sounds like a barking dog. Davis’ unflinching honesty is evident in bold declarations, such as “I like being the one to give bad news— / I am not embarrassed by grief.” But she also brims with compassion and imparts the kind of caring one could only hope to have from the medical establishment: “How difficult it is, / how necessary, to stay at the bedside of the dying.” The book’s one fault is its 182-page length. Some poems unrelated to the collection’s theme could have been cut.

A haunting, powerful look at the professional and personal life of a nurse through poetry.

Pub Date: July 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-943826-69-8

Page Count: 194

Publisher: Antrim House

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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