A compassionate portrait of a mother aching with regrets yet brave enough to fight for her family.

MOTHER COUNTRY

Six years ago, Nadia left her only daughter, Larisska, behind in war-torn Ukraine. Since then, she’s tried to bring her daughter to America, but she fears the reunion may bring even more problems.

Back in Ukraine, Nadia worked as a bookkeeper for a pipe manufacturing company, a job that not only helped her pay the bills, but also brought a dashing midlevel manager, the technolog, into her orbit. One afternoon of illicit pleasure on his desk leads to Nadia’s pregnancy, but the technolog has no intention of leaving his wife and daughter, so Nadia becomes a single mother. From birth, Larisska was anything but easy, refusing her own mother’s milk but accepting the neighbor’s. As tensions increase among western Ukrainians, separatists, and Russians, life in Nadia’s neighborhood begins disintegrating, and soon the pipe company is paying its employees in mandarin oranges, good for selling on the black market but not so good for diabetic Larisska. Once the technolog reveals that the company is closing, Nadia and Larisska’s application to leave Ukraine becomes even more urgent, but when their names finally reach the top of the list, 21-year-old Larisska has aged out, and Nadia chooses to go to America alone.. Devastated by her mother’s decision, Larisska rarely even Skypes or texts with Nadia. One night, however, Nadia’s friends convince her to go clubbing, and she concocts a scheme to get Larisska a green card—a scheme that will upturn Nadia’s own life and perhaps bring a bit of romance into it. Reyn (The Imperial Wife, 2016) deftly spins a web of heartache and memory around Nadia’s daily life. As she tries to handle the outrageous behavior of American toddlers and elderly Russian men with access to Viagra, her thoughts continually turn to her homeland.

A compassionate portrait of a mother aching with regrets yet brave enough to fight for her family.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-07604-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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