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THE CHILD AND THE RIVER

Bosco’s story carries readers into an innocent childhood world as easily as the current carries the boys on their adventures.

French writer Bosco’s classic 1953 story is a charming ode to childhood and the joys of getting lost in the lush Provençal countryside.

“Now, all this took place a long, long time ago, and today I am very nearly an old man," says Pascalet, the narrator. “But for the rest of my life, however long I may live, I will never forget those early days when I lived on the water. Those beautiful days are still with me in all their freshness.” Despite his parents’ warnings and his inability to swim, young Pascalet can’t help himself: The beauty of the river and the surrounding woods and flowers beckons, and he can’t resist. He sneaks away from the crabby old aunt who’s watching him while his parents are away, takes a rickety boat out on the water, and soon befriends a young boy named Gatzo, who’s also a runaway. Together they explore the shoreline, play games, hunt imaginary beasts, fish, sleep under the stars, and discover the ruined chapel of Our Lady of Still Waters hidden among the reeds. Their idyll doesn't last; when they meet a young girl who says people are looking for them, Gatzo—who was in trouble when Pascalet met him—flees, and Pascalet is heartbroken at the loss of a new friend. But the two meet again because of a strange marionette show in a riverside village, later forming a strong brotherly bond. A small gem from Bosco (1888-1976), this book has been described as a French Huckleberry Finn even though a comparison with Thoreau’s Walden might make more sense. Pascalet’s seven precious days on the river result in a spiritual awakening that gives him a deeper connection to the natural world. “I did not know what a soul was,” he thinks. “At that age you do not. But I clearly sensed that this joy was more than my body.”

Bosco’s story carries readers into an innocent childhood world as easily as the current carries the boys on their adventures.

Pub Date: June 27, 2023

ISBN: 9781681377421

Page Count: 144

Publisher: NYRB Classics

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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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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