Next book

WHAT WE OWE

Always arresting, never sentimental; gut-wrenching, though not without hope.

Told she has six months to live, an Iranian refugee living in Sweden rages against her inevitable decline—and wrestles with the choices of her past—in Hashemzadeh Bonde’s spare and devastating novel, her first to be published in the U.S.

At 50, Nahid is unceremoniously diagnosed with terminal cancer. She knows death: A former Marxist revolutionary who fled Iran for Sweden, she has seen it. Now that it is upon her, she ought to be prepared. “I’ve always carried my death with me,” she announces. “Our time was always borrowed. We weren’t supposed to be alive. We should have died in the revolution.” But the reality of the diagnosis terrifies her. “What do you do when they tell you you’re dying?” she wonders, caustically. What follows is less a plot than a reckoning: As her health declines, she recalls her childhood in Iran, the early excitement of the revolution followed by the brutality of the violence. She reflects back on her marriage and her early years in Sweden, poisoned by the pain she and her husband shared. And in the present, she considers her daughter, Aram, raised in so-called freedom, now an adult with a doting Swedish boyfriend. She loves Aram more than anyone, but her anger makes her cruel. “You have no mother,” she tells Aram, shortly after diagnosis. “You have nobody. You’re an orphan.” Nahid is capable of betrayal; she learned that during the revolution. Now that she is dying, she debates the value of her choices: “I wonder now what’s worth more,” she says. “Freedom and democracy. Or people who love you. People who will take care of your children when you die.” Translated—gorgeously and simply—by Wessel, Nahid's sentences are short and thrillingly brutal, and the result is exhilarating. Hashemzadeh Bonde, unafraid of ugliness and seemingly unconcerned with likability, has produced a startling meditation on death, national identity, and motherhood.

Always arresting, never sentimental; gut-wrenching, though not without hope.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-99508-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

Next book

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE GREAT ALONE

A tour de force.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

Close Quickview