Native American spirits haunt the novel, but unfortunately so do too many coincidences to allow the reader to suspend belief.

READ REVIEW

THE LANGUAGE OF TREES

In Ruby’s debut novel, set around Canandaigua, N.Y., a young man returns to his deceased parents’ lakeside cabin after a seven-year absence and becomes involved in the search for a missing woman and the truth about his past. 

Teacher Grant Shongo, 33, returns to his parents’ cabin to pull himself together after his wife Susanna leaves him, claiming he has never fully committed to her. Susanna is not wrong. Grant is still haunted by memories of Echo, the sweetheart he has not seen for 15 years, since they made love and then broke up over a misunderstanding shortly before she left for college. Grant’s doctor father Ben was of Seneca Indian descent; when Grant befriends and heals a dog-wolf hybrid, the spiritual healing powers Grant inherited from Ben become obvious. Eventually Grant realizes his father was really the semi-mythical Indian chief Two Bears. But first Echo shows up to care for the ailing, elderly cousin who raised her in Canandaigua after she was orphaned. The love between Echo and Grant resurfaces, although both are frightened to express their true feelings. Meanwhile, 21-year-old Melanie Ellis has gone missing. One night when she was nine, Melanie, along with eight-year-old sister Maya and seven-year-old brother Luke, took Ben's canoe out on the lake without asking; a storm came and Luke drowned, although the sisters’ memories of the details of the event remain hazy. Soon after, Melanie’s mother and abusive father divorced. Maya is now in a mental hospital. Addicted to drugs and dangerous behavior, Melanie had been putting her life together before her disappearance, in love and raising a child with African-American Lion, a recovering addict from California. After Grant saves Lion when he goes off the wagon, he becomes involved in Grant’s search for Melanie, whom readers already know has been abducted by her father, who holds her in Two Bears’ Cave.

Native American spirits haunt the novel, but unfortunately so do too many coincidences to allow the reader to suspend belief.

Pub Date: July 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-189864-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Anyone who believes in true love or is simply willing to accept it as the premise of a winding tale will find this debut an...

ONE DAY IN DECEMBER

True love flares between two people, but they find that circumstances always impede it.

On a winter day in London, Laurie spots Jack from her bus home and he sparks a feeling in her so deep that she spends the next year searching for him. Her roommate and best friend, Sarah, is the perfect wing-woman but ultimately—and unknowingly—ends the search by finding Jack and falling for him herself. Laurie’s hasty decision not to tell Sarah is the second painful missed opportunity (after not getting off the bus), but Sarah’s happiness is so important to Laurie that she dedicates ample energy into retraining her heart not to love Jack. Laurie is misguided, but her effort and loyalty spring from a true heart, and she considers her project mostly successful. Perhaps she would have total success, but the fact of the matter is that Jack feels the same deep connection to Laurie. His reasons for not acting on them are less admirable: He likes Sarah and she’s the total package; why would he give that up just because every time he and Laurie have enough time together (and just enough alcohol) they nearly fall into each other’s arms? Laurie finally begins to move on, creating a mostly satisfying life for herself, whereas Jack’s inability to be genuine tortures him and turns him into an ever bigger jerk. Patriarchy—it hurts men, too! There’s no question where the book is going, but the pacing is just right, the tone warm, and the characters sympathetic, even when making dumb decisions.

Anyone who believes in true love or is simply willing to accept it as the premise of a winding tale will find this debut an emotional, satisfying read.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-57468-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

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

IT ENDS WITH US

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 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more