An exquisite portrait of a mother’s healing love for her troubled daughter.

WHISTLE IN THE DARK

After four agonizing days, Jen and Hugh Maddox’s 15-year-old daughter, Lana, has been found, bloodied and soaking wet. But where has she been?

Lana herself cannot—or will not—say. The clues are scant: While on a mother-daughter painting course in the English countryside, Lana simply vanished one night and turned up four days later, spotted by a farmer. Did Lana leave voluntarily, or was she taken? Could fellow artist Stephen, a minister of the New Lollards Fellowship, a sect fascinated by visits to hell, have taken her? Or perhaps Matthew, the son of the holiday-center manager, lured Lana away? Remembering how she caught Lana last year with a plastic bag full of painkillers, Jen fears that Lana may have intended to harm herself. After Lana is discharged from the hospital, the Maddoxes return to London and attempt to patch their family back together. Still riddled with questions, Jen begins to investigate. In short, deft narrative fragments, Healey (Elizabeth Is Missing, 2014) captures Jen’s piecing together of Lana’s fragile psyche. Hoping to find clues, Jen scrutinizes Lana’s sketchbook, her Instagram account, and the books hidden under her bed, alarmed to find repeated references to the end of life. With echoes of Demeter’s rescue of Persephone, Jen’s investigation into what happened over those four days becomes a quest to understand her daughter’s mental illness and accept her broken memories. Healey beautifully depicts Lana’s sense of unease in her own body: When asked by her therapist to find an image that symbolically represents her discomfort, Lana chooses one of birds, explaining that she feels as if she were full of fluttering birds eager to escape her skin. Along the way, Jen must face her own psychological quirks (including possibly imaginary cats) and walk in Lana’s footsteps.

An exquisite portrait of a mother’s healing love for her troubled daughter.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-230971-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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THE GREAT ALONE

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

ISBN: 978-0-312-57723-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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