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THE AMERICAN OUTSIDER

An often appealing, well-informed novel about cultural differences and animal rights.

A California veterinarian travels to Japan to protest animal slaughter and meets a carefree executive in Pourasgari’s novel.

American Tessa Walker visited her aunt in Japan when she was young and has since been haunted by a particular memory: In coastal Taiji, when she was 16, she witnessed the slaughter of dolphins in a bloody bay. Now 40, she’s still troubled by the recollection and plans a trip to Japan to protest the commercial killing of dolphins and whales: “It was personal. For her, it had all started in Japan, and it would have to end here.” Upon arrival, her friend Akira, an American who lives in Tokyo, shows her around and teaches her about complexities of Japanese culture, including specific traditions of gift giving. While alone one day, a drunk, obnoxious man, out with his buddies, grabs and kisses Tessa on a dare. She feels violated, slaps him, and tells him off. Sometime later, she sees him again on the street and grabs and kisses him in front of his girlfriend to embarrass him. She eventually finds out that he’s the son of the co-owner of a clothing corporation. Tessa initially sees him as rich and spoiled but finds herself intrigued by him, and the feeling is mutual. As the day of the protest approaches, she’s opened Toshiro’s eyes to the issue but has also attracted the attention of the police, who watch her closely. Pourasgari presents a multifaceted novel that is as much about travel and culture clashes as it is an unexpected story of a relationship, with a protagonist who brings a refreshingly seasoned perspective to the proceedings. As a veterinarian, Tessa’s concern for animals is convincing and heartfelt. Toshiro’s introduction, achieved through unlikely chance meetings in Tokyo, is handled in a clunky manner, but his role develops and becomes more complicated as the book goes on, and his feelings about visitors from abroad add complexity. Tessa’s exposure to and ruminations on Japan’s culture are also carefully considered.

An often appealing, well-informed novel about cultural differences and animal rights.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2023

ISBN: 9780977978045

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Linbrook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2022

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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 ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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