Charming and engrossing as a shop of curiosities but thin on meaningful change or conflict.

In this quirky and episodic novel, a young woman yearns for love in a thrift store full of oddities and odd characters.

Kawakami (Strange Weather in Tokyo, 2014, etc.) writes of Hitomi, a naïve cashier at the Nakano Thrift Shop, who falls for her co-worker, Takeo. “People scare me,” confides Takeo, who wants companionship with Hitomi but nothing more. Though Hitomi and Takeo find friendship on the common ground of Mr. Nakano’s unusual shop, Takeo is taciturn and reluctant; he’s uninterested in sex. (Their boss, Mr. Nakano, on the other hand, openly discusses his sexual exploits, multiple marriages and trips to visit “the Bank”—his mistress—to the chagrin of his employees.) Frustrated by Takeo’s reticence and lack of attention, Hitomi visits Mr. Nakano’s sister, Masayo, for advice. Masayo, who is in her 50s, attempts to explain to Hitomi how nobody can be taken for granted. “When I haven’t heard from someone for a while, the first thing that occurs to me is that they might have just keeled over. This was what Masayo had murmured when Takeo hadn’t been answering my calls,” Hitomi recalls. Masayo’s words prove to be prescient. Several items hint at the greater significance of Nakano’s thrift store, including an old set of photographs and an antique celadon bowl that’s cursed by a breakup. Each has a brief role in the story, but much of Kawakami’s work centers on Hitomi’s obsession with Takeo’s lack of romantic response. Another theme—art and its relationship to reality—is touched on briefly yet doesn’t come to fruition. Romantic discussions and concerns are surface-level. Characters in the novel have no real motivation to change, so the book becomes a static exercise in studying them as objects.

Charming and engrossing as a shop of curiosities but thin on meaningful change or conflict.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60945-399-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017


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


With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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