Finely detailed if sometimes slow.

The reclusive driver of a bookmobile encounters a life-changing stranger during his travels.

The protagonist of this novel—a man so fully devoted to his traveling library that he’s simply known to all as "the Driver"—leads a quiet and particular life: He occupies a small Quebec City apartment alone; socializes primarily with a lone author friend; and is characterized by a handful of “idiosyncratic ideas” honed privately over the course of his lifetime (“if two people were really made to get along together, they should like not only the same books and the same songs, but also the same passages in his books and songs”). For almost his entire adulthood, his routine has varied little. He makes seasonal rounds in his mobile library (a converted milk truck) to bring everything from Hemingway to publisher-rejected manuscripts to the far-flung readers of Canada’s North Shore and surrounding areas. Now aging, he anticipates his final book "tour," but his routine is thrown into disarray upon meeting Marie, the enigmatic and captivating manager of sorts for a traveling brass band. The Driver is instantly engaged by her “tenderness and strength,” and, as he befriends and travels alongside the band (they in a refurbished school bus), he and Marie forge a close and intangible bond. As the Driver, full of melancholy, soaks in the details of his penultimate tour—the austere, lonely landscapes; the strange fellow readers, from fishermen’s wives to hydroplane pilots—he and Marie grow closer, exposing the vulnerability of two introverted souls struggling to close a chasm between them. Quaint and understated, Poulin’s novel offers a deeply felt meditation on loneliness, age, and the improbability of human connection. Set against a lovingly rendered landscape, the ups and downs of Marie and the Driver’s relationship are often affecting, though the novel lacks the panache to become something truly original. Those seeking a tender (albeit sometimes milquetoast) account of two intersecting lives, however, will end this book satisfied and even moved.

Finely detailed if sometimes slow.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-953861-06-1

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Archipelago

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021


A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.

Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780062406651

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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