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DIDN'T NOBODY GIVE A SHIT WHAT HAPPENED TO CARLOTTA

A brash, ambitious novel carried by an unforgettable narrator.

A trans woman returns home after spending half her life in a men’s prison. She has a lot to say.

The title character of Hannaham’s superb third novel is a Black Colombian woman who’s just been paroled after spending nearly 22 years in prison. She was an accomplice in her cousin’s robbery of a Brooklyn liquor store that led to a shopkeeper’s murder; she transitioned during her incarceration, leading to routine abuses by inmates and correctional officers, including serial rape in solitary confinement. Upon her release, though, her demeanor is undefeated and stubbornly irrepressible: Hannaham often starts paragraphs with omniscient third-person descriptions followed by abrupt, unpunctuated interruptions by Carlotta. (“Carlotta turned on her heel and rushed back to the subway Yo this shit’s too much a too much!”) It’s an effective rhetorical technique, showing her urge to take control of the narrative while counteracting the kinds of “official” narratives that get the story wrong about women like her. It also simply makes Carlotta’s story engrossing reading. Carlotta’s travels through Fort Greene, Brooklyn, during the day or so the novel tracks are only moderately eventful—finding her parole officer, applying for a job, visiting family, attempting to drive a car, attending a wake—but all of it is enlivened with her commentary. Much of her sass is a survival instinct—eventually we learn just how traumatized she is, and she’s enduring what proves to be a difficult reentry into society. In parts the book reads like a time-travel story, as Carlotta observes changes in technology, manners, and her old stomping grounds. And in its day-in-the-life framing, hyperlocality, and rhetorical invention, it’s also an homage to Ulysses, whose ending is flagrantly echoed here. Carlotta deserves a lot of things society rarely provides to women like her—among them, a role in great fiction. Hannaham gives Carlotta her due.

A brash, ambitious novel carried by an unforgettable narrator.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-28527-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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THE WOMEN

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

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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

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IT ENDS WITH US

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

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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 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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