Next book

TERRACE STORY

Leichter bends minds—and physics—to give a light touch to deep grief.

A group of characters linked across time and space navigate love and, often, its loss.

In “Terrace Story,” Leichter’s 2020 National Magazine Award–winning short story, Edward and Annie, a young couple, move into a small city apartment with their infant daughter, Rose. One day, they invite Annie’s co-worker Stephanie to dinner, and when Annie opens the door to what is normally a closet, she finds instead a beautiful terrace, bedecked with plants, furnished, filled with twinkling lights. This novel of the same name—though it is as much a collection of linked stories as a traditional novel—takes that piece as its symbolic core and imagines a constellation of characters for whom time and space are slippery at best. Part of the book’s fun is figuring out the characters’ connections to those from other sections, but in perhaps the novel’s most compelling part, “Fortress,” Leichter follows Stephanie, whose power to create and manipulate physical spaces (the reason Annie and Edward’s terrace only appears when she's visiting their apartment) leads to a series of crushing heartbreaks. Leichter is not only interested in micro drama, though; this is also a big-picture look at the Late Anthropocene, with animals continually going extinct and many characters either historians or storytellers (one is a writer whose specialty is extinction). Leichter is juggling plenty of symbolism along with her zingy surrealism-lite and it can be a lot to untangle, but at the book's heart are the relatable grief and terror that go along with love—of our planet, of another—and the threat of losing it. As Leichter writes of one character, “All [she] wanted was a person on the other end of her stories.”

Leichter bends minds—and physics—to give a light touch to deep grief.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9780063265813

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 146


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE WOMEN

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 146


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Next book

THE NIGHTINGALE

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Close Quickview