LOVE NOVEL

A devastating book, humane, original, and deeply relevant.

In this short novel by award-winning Croatian writer and theater director Sajko, a young couple struggles with parenthood, unemployment, and the anxieties of the historical moment.

In an urban apartment complex, a husband and wife are fighting again. He’s an unemployed writer and Dante fan, trying to protest government corruption. She’s an actress, now home with the baby. “Words, words, words,” he screams. She slams a door, waking the child. “There was no one to turn to for help, for support, for some understanding or a grain of optimism, because like they said on the news, and like he always claimed too, it will only get worse…” She’s right. Things do get worse. Yet out of this unlikely material, Sajko conjures a brutally honest, richly layered story about the fate of those caught in the inequalities of late capitalism and the inertia of governments. We see the actress “on the verge of a nervous breakdown while she was scraping burnt milk off the bottom of a pot, with the pee-soaked child trying to climb her leg, while she was begging the baby to wait, to wait for just one second, all the while trying with enormous difficulty to refrain from screaming or breaking something, because the child was bawling angrily and slapping at her thigh with tiny hands, demanding the right that every child should be able to claim, not to have to wait, just as he demanded the right that every man should be able to claim to pursue goals more noble than washing the dishes and wiping up urine.” Moving deftly between past and present, with evocative sentences that unspool propulsively, Sajko delves into her characters’ souls, and the title that seemed initially facetious becomes increasingly apt. Her compassionate attention extends beyond the unhappy couple to a neighbor attempting to grow flowers, a security guard, protestors at a political rally. And the child, absorbing this miasma of vituperation and crushed hopes.

A devastating book, humane, original, and deeply relevant.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781771965989

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Biblioasis

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

THE WOMEN

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

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

GIRL ABROAD

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

A rock star’s daughter decides to study abroad in search of her own experiences, finding romance and intrigue along the way.

For 19-year-old Abbey Bly, having a rock star for a father isn’t as glamorous as it seems. For one thing, she shares her name with Abbey Road, and for another, the only version of the famous Gunner Bly she knows is the helicopter parent she lives with in Nashville. Hoping to find her way outside her father’s sphere of influence, Abbey decides to spend a semester in London studying European history at Pembridge University. Promising to keep her father updated on every aspect of life abroad, Abbey heads to her shared apartment expecting to find three female roommates…only to find that she’s actually living with three men. Afraid that Gunner will order her home, Abbey decides to keep Lee, Jack, and Jamie’s gender a secret (lucky their names sound androgynous!) and sets her sights on adventure. While working on a research project about a mysterious painting and adapting to Britain’s drinking culture, Abbey finds time to explore a little romance despite her housemates’ strict no-fraternizing rule. First there’s Jack, a commitment-phobic Australian hottie who can’t seem to stay away from Abbey; then there’s Nate, a sexy bassist who keeps forgetting he’s taken. Toying with nonexclusive relationships and exploring her sexuality, Abbey can’t help but feel excited about all the experience she’s gaining, but has she really, truly found herself? Kennedy’s novel is a page-turner—who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and meet interested potential lovers down the hall? Abbey is a relatable character who yearns to stand outside her father’s shadow, and though the love triangle is a focal point, it never outshines the heroine’s growth.

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781728299792

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

Close Quickview