A classic story of nostalgia fulfilled, the narrative moves slowly but delivers a number of unexpected revelations.


Retroactive Romance

From the Anima series , Vol. 1

From Lemons (Jeannie-Centristasis, 2011, etc.) comes a sci-fi novel about one man’s rare opportunity to connect with the love of his life.

Forty-nine-year-old Edward Lewis is a trucker by trade. Although Edward boasts some accomplishments (“a mathematics degree as well as authoring several books”), he seems content with his occupation. Staying in a hotel room when not on the road, he finds himself drawn to a woman named Audra. There’s only one problem: “Audra had been dead for nearly twenty years.” An actress from days past, she seems “cute, cuddly, yet hard, tough, and resourceful” to Edward. After a strange presence visits him in his hotel room, Edward receives a startling proposition. He can travel back to the year 1953 as “a twenty-one-year-old man with the opportunity to meet Audra at her age in that year.” The catch is that his life in the present will never have existed. As it is explained to him, “Your existence will be reset.” Accepting the offer, Edward finds himself in a New York theater with a pocketful of money and a vague sense of who he is. As he and Audra fall in love, questions emerge about Edward’s past. Who is this man who has seemingly fallen from the sky? And then there’s the issue of the smartphone that Edward has materialized with, though he does not fully understand its purpose or why only he can see it. A zany yet familiar conceit, the story moves unhurriedly at first, though things eventually manage to get more curious and surprising. Spotted with clumpy sentiments (one character believes that “love is, and always will be a very selfish act, for it cannot exist without subjective desire”), some philosophical musings could certainly use subtler articulations. Nevertheless, the lingering question of the smartphone helps to maintain intrigue. Portions involving the gadget help to expose modern-day silliness, as when Audra insists Edward put it away during a train ride lest someone think he was “whacked out mentally in some fashion” for ostensibly playing with his palm. Of bigger interest to the reader is finding out what, if anything, it all means.

A classic story of nostalgia fulfilled, the narrative moves slowly but delivers a number of unexpected revelations.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9969918-0-3

Page Count: 436

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

Did you like this book?