GOOD RIDDANCE

Lipman's narrative brio keeps things moving at a good clip.

Daphne Maritch has no idea why her mother, a popular New Hampshire high school teacher, left her a heavily annotated yearbook for the class of 1968—but she's about to find out whether she wants to or not.

As Lipman's latest comic novel (On Turpentine Lane, 2017, etc.) opens, Daphne is attempting to declutter her apartment according to the principles of a bestselling book: Hold each item to your heart and ask "does this thing inspire joy?" Despite her mother's obsession with the class of '68—she was their teacher and yearbook adviser fresh out of college, then attended their reunions for decades—the answer with regard to their yearbook is a firm no, and she pitches the thing out. Unfortunately, one of the neighbors in her New York apartment building is both a dedicated trash-picker and an aspiring filmmaker. This neighbor lays claim to the yearbook, convinced that she can base a fascinating documentary on research into the fates of this group of 60-somethings. Daphne's belated attempts to derail the project, which seems to have the potential to reveal her dead mother's secrets, lead to all sorts of madcap adventures. She enlists another neighbor, a sexy young TV actor, in her efforts; she takes a trip to this year's reunion with the documentary filmmaker; she desperately tries to insulate her father, erstwhile principal of the same high school, now a widowed dog-walker in Manhattan, from the whole project and its revelations. It's pretty silly, and very contrived, but this author has a black belt in silly contrivance and a faithful horde of fans who are looking for just that. Au courant elements like an investigative podcast serial, the television show Riverdale, and online courses for becoming a chocolatier add a fresh twist to the proceedings.

Lipman's narrative brio keeps things moving at a good clip.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-544-80825-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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