A nuanced and poignant coming-of-age historical novel.

THE IMMIGRANT

A young Eastern European immigrant struggles with issues of identity, love, and loss in Petrovsky’s novel.

In the Bolshevik town of Komenska in Byelorussia, Lev is a 17-year-old Jewish boy who’s forced to flee the aftermath of a pogrom. Leaving behind a peaceful past and his hopes for a stable future, he seeks refuge with an eclectic group of Roma travelers who call themselves the Aluşta Traveling Circus & Sideshow of Amazing Freaks. Petrovsky showcases the diversity of this troupe of persecuted people, which, in addition to its Roma founders, includes a Hindu snake charmer and a Middle Eastern performer known as the Amazing Exploding Man. Lev’s horizons expand during wild nights with bewitching sex workers, conversations on freedom with a performer who sets himself on fire, and encounters with bigoted law enforcement. Unfortunate hostilities and unforeseen friendships lead him to board a ship traveling from Finland to New York City, where he works in a brothel on the Lower East Side and navigates conflicting local Jewish communities; later, he makes a move to the West. Throughout his journey, Lev searches for love, tries to hold onto the values of his childhood, and comes to terms with the traumas of his past. This work balances distanced observations about the world with the intense emotions of the immigrant experience. Petrovsky’s prose is succinct and simple, reflecting the perspective of a young man thrown headlong into the perilous task of growing up. Lev’s observations are carefully crafted to evoke universal themes; for example, he notes, upon arriving in New York, that “America is no better than any place else.…As an idea, it is genius, a towering light so bright that it blocks all ugliness and intolerance.” The author adds depth to the novel’s historical context by showing the complex dynamics among different ethnic groups, including conflicts between Southern and Eastern European Jews in New York and, much later, difficulties between Latine and Native American people in Arizona.

A nuanced and poignant coming-of-age historical novel.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64663-807-9

Page Count: 253

Publisher: Koehler Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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

IT STARTS WITH US

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 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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