A fresh, enticingly told coming-of-age story.

READ REVIEW

THE INQUIRER

A college student returns to her small hometown and must confront various ghosts from her past and present.

Amiah Williams left Kingsley, Alberta, for college in Vancouver after her disastrous four-year relationship with Mike, the small town’s golden boy, ended. When her father suffers a catastrophic leg injury, she returns home to work on her family’s ranch and support her parents but immediately comes face to face with her ex as well as her former best friend and a potential new suitor, Alek. To complicate matters even further, Amiah walks into the grocery store to find herself on the front page of the Inquirer, Kingsley’s anonymously written gossip tabloid, with the headline: “Miah the Man-Eater: Miah makes out with her former BF’s younger brother in front of Mike!” Amiah immediately calls Nathan, her best friend from Vancouver, and it's cleverly revealed that the two are actually the co-writers and -publishers of the paper, which primarily bases its stories on tips and photos shared via email by townspeople. Amiah is shocked Nathan chose to write the story about her, but he points out that the Inquirer couldn't ignore multiple tips or it would raises suspicions about who was behind it. With Nathan's support, Amiah begins to slowly reckon with her relationship with Mike, and reform relationships with everyone else, even as she and Nathan continue to write and produce issues of the Inquirer, but when her parents discover what she's doing, the tabloid no longer seems like a harmless way to pay student loans. A bildungsroman that never drags, Dawn’s debut novel is appealing both in its innovation—it intersperses newspaper articles from the Inquirer throughout—and its unexpected insights from Amiah, its well-drawn narrator. Though at times there are too many minor characters and backstories, the novel captures both the intimacy and, at times, suffocating nature of a small town without lapsing into derision of Kingsley or its residents. Dawn sets a brisk, engaging pace while tactfully dealing with the nuances of coercive relationships, the strain of living up to appearances and expectations, and the costs of finding one’s voice.

A fresh, enticingly told coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-988732-67-1

Page Count: 248

Publisher: NeWest Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A sweeping romantic tale of thwarted love.

THE STATIONERY SHOP

Sixty years after her first love failed to meet her in a market square, Roya Khanom Archer finally has the chance to see him. But will he break her heart again?

Back in 1953, she was a 17-year-old schoolgirl, raised in a progressive home in Tehran, where her father encouraged Roya and her sister, Zari, to take advantage of the recent reforms that allowed women to go to university. While he hoped she might become a chemist, Roya loved escaping into novels, which sent her to Mr. Fakhri’s stationery and book store every Tuesday afternoon. There she first sees Bahman Aslan, a breathless young man already well-known as a political activist. Kamali (Together Tea, 2013) sets Roya and Bahman’s love against the tumultuous days of Mohammad Mossadegh’s rise and fall as prime minister of Iran, infusing their affair with political passion and an increasingly frantic sense of the shortness of time. Tuesday after Tuesday, the couple falls more deeply in love, and Bahman soon proposes marriage to Roya. While Roya’s family welcomes Bahman—although Zari warns Roya that his heart cannot be trusted—Bahman’s emotionally volatile mother refuses to accept the engagement, because she has already chosen Shahla, the daughter of a man closely allied with the shah, for her son. Roya determines to weather her future mother-in-law’s storms, but when Bahman and his family disappear, she can only turn to Mr. Fakhri for help. Although he cannot tell Roya where Bahman has gone, Mr. Fakhri offers to exchange secret letters between the lovers. The plan works, and the two even plan to elope, but Bahman does not show up in Sepah Square. Sixty years later, Bahman’s confession will finally expose the secrets that cast shadows over the lovers so long ago.

A sweeping romantic tale of thwarted love.

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-0748-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more