An uplifting tale of facing personal and professional adversity.

DEVIL'S GRACE

When a doctor loses her family in a horrible accident, she struggles to find purpose in her work and meaning in her life in this novel.

Angela Brennan is a highly regarded cardiac surgeon at her hospital in Barrington, Rhode Island. Her colleagues respect her, and the hospital administrators are grooming her to become CEO. Angela is driven and dedicated to her career, but her commitment to the job comes at a cost: Her husband, Tony, and their two children, son Liam and daughter Emily, miss her. “You’re missing so many of the little things that make a family special,” Tony says. Still, the family is happy, and the four of them enjoy an idyllic Memorial Day weekend on Cape Cod. As they’re driving back to Barrington, a truck smashes into the car in “an explosion of light.” Liam is killed almost instantly; Tony also dies in the accident. Emily is rushed to surgery to repair a shattered leg and a broken arm, but an accidental drug overdose kills her. Angela, reeling and feeling alone, leans on her friend Liz Rumsey, a nurse at the hospital. Soon, Angela returns to work, but without the same passion. She considers taking her own life. One day, a cryptic note shows up on her desk: “I’m not sure that the cause of your daughter’s death is what it seems,” it says. As Angela tries to figure out who left the note and for what purpose, her investigation reveals that her beloved hospital might not be the workplace she thought it was. Splaine’s writing is clean, precise, and explicitly detailed. The author’s knowledge of health care workers and the hospital environment is extensive, informing nearly every page. While Splaine’s prose recalls a surgeon’s attention to detail, the accident is depicted too vividly, with gratuitous descriptions of the horrific car crash. Throughout the novel, the villains are clear: the agents of bureaucracy who value saving face over saving lives. Despite such obstacles, Angela searches for what really matters in this stirring story: kindness, care, and hope.

An uplifting tale of facing personal and professional adversity.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950584-73-4

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Green Writers Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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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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