by Danzy Senna ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 1, 2017
A great book about race and a great book all around.
Khalil and Maria, biracial Stanford graduates whose Martha’s Vineyard wedding will be featured in the New York Times, hit a bump in the road when Maria develops a crush on another man.
Khalil Mirsky is the dreadlocked, Hacky Sack–playing son of a Jewish man and an African-American woman, “the only black guy at the frat party—the Hootie in his Blowfish.” Maria Pierce is so light that white people make racist jokes in front of her, thus suffering “that particular rage of the light-skinned individual,” as her black adoptive mother puts it. From the moment they get together, Khalil and Maria are the “King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom,” their skin “the same shade of beige”—or as Khalil describes it to the woman filming them for a documentary called “New People,” “a Woody Allen movie, with melanin.” Maria is more cynical about their biracial fairy tale, their Brooklyn lifestyle, the future baby they'll name Indigo or Thelonious Mirsky-Pierce, "the messiah of Mulatto Nation.” Her second thoughts take the form of an obsessive crush on a poet who is not a New Person, a “brown-skinned black boy with a shaved head…the body, the skin, the face that cabdrivers pretend not to see.” Senna’s (You Are Free, 2011, etc.) fearless novel is equal parts beguiling and disturbing, and nowhere more so than in a hilarious, ultimately terrifying series of events that begins when a tired white lady mistakes Maria for her nanny, Consuela, and leaves her in charge of her infant. Senna combines the clued-in status details you’d find in a New York magazine article with the narrative invention of big-league fiction. Every detail and subplot, including Maria’s dissertation on the Jonestown massacre and her buried secret about a college prank gone awry, is resonant.A great book about race and a great book all around.
Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017
Page Count: 240
Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 6, 2018
A tour de force.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
In 1974, a troubled Vietnam vet inherits a house from a fallen comrade and moves his family to Alaska.
After years as a prisoner of war, Ernt Allbright returned home to his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, a violent, difficult, restless man. The family moved so frequently that 13-year-old Leni went to five schools in four years. But when they move to Alaska, still very wild and sparsely populated, Ernt finds a landscape as raw as he is. As Leni soon realizes, “Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now. If you wanted to pray to a weirdo god or live in a school bus or marry a goose, no one in Alaska was going to say crap to you.” There are many great things about this book—one of them is its constant stream of memorably formulated insights about Alaska. Another key example is delivered by Large Marge, a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who now runs the general store for the community of around 30 brave souls who live in Kaneq year-round. As she cautions the Allbrights, “Alaska herself can be Sleeping Beauty one minute and a bitch with a sawed-off shotgun the next. There’s a saying: Up here you can make one mistake. The second one will kill you.” Hannah’s (The Nightingale, 2015, etc.) follow-up to her series of blockbuster bestsellers will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet–like coming-of-age story, and domestic potboiler. She re-creates in magical detail the lives of Alaska's homesteaders in both of the state's seasons (they really only have two) and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America.A tour de force.
Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017
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by Lisa Jewell ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 24, 2018
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
Page Count: 368
Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018
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