STRANGER TO THE MOON

A profound work of dark and brutal truth.

Recalling the work of Kafka and de Sade, a nightmarish fable explores timeless questions about violence and subjugation, power and freedom.

The celebrated Rosero is no stranger to the darker regions of the human imagination, whether in his previous novels of Colombian politics and history or in his latest, a mythical story whose world is removed from ours; as in a fairy tale, it exists outside any recognizable place while reflecting, from a tilt, the violent history of modern nation-states. The novel examines a group of naked prisoners who have been put away in an enormous but cramped house where they are forced to serve the higher caste of “clothed ones.” From the shadows of the wardrobe in which he's been sentenced to live, the narrator, a "naked one," describes his silent and interior rebellion against the clothed ones, unravelling this small society’s structures and rituals in all their nuance and complexity. We learn, for example, that all naked ones possess both sexes, each individual essentially choosing their gender at some point in their youth. Though clothed ones arrive at the house whenever they like, naked ones can't leave the house without being harassed and attacked, subject to elaborate, innovative forms of torture. And while the clothed ones will elect certain naked ones to favor and protect, the weakest of the naked ones are maimed or even die of starvation at young ages. Rosero packs great depth within a brief novel through brisk chapters that can change tone as the ambivalent narrator wavers among resentment, anger, and defeat. Though the world of this story is bleak—sometimes almost unbearably so—the narrator’s soliloquies on agency in the midst of captivity and degradation are timeless, haunting, and extremely powerful.

A profound work of dark and brutal truth.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8112-2862-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: New Directions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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