by Jennifer Weiner ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 11, 2019
An ambitious look at how women’s roles have changed—and stayed the same—over the last 70 years.
A sprawling story about two sisters growing up, apart, and back together.
Jo and Bethie Kaufman may be sisters, but they don’t have much else in common. As young girls in the 1950s, Jo is a tomboy who’s uninterested in clothes while Bethie is the “pretty one” who loves to dress up. When their father dies unexpectedly, the Kaufman daughters and their mother, Sarah, suddenly have to learn how to take care of themselves at a time when women have few options. Jo, who realizes early on that she’s attracted to girls, knows that it will be difficult for her to ever truly be herself in a world that doesn’t understand her. Meanwhile, Bethie struggles with her appearance, using food to handle her difficult emotions. The names Jo and Beth aren’t all that Weiner (Hungry Heart, 2016, etc.) borrows from Little Women; she also uses a similar episodic structure to showcase important moments of the sisters’ lives as she follows them from girlhood to old age. They experience the civil rights movement, protests, sexual assault, drugs, sex, and marriage, all while dealing with their own personal demons. Although men are present in both women's lives, female relationships take center stage. Jo and Bethie are defined not by their relationships with husbands or boyfriends, but by their complex and challenging relationships with their mother, daughters, friends, lovers, and, ultimately, each other. Weiner resists giving either sister an easy, tidy ending; their sorrows are the kind that many women, especially those of their generation, have had to face. The story ends as Hillary Clinton runs for president, a poignant reminder of both the strides women have made since the 1950s and the barriers that still hold them back.An ambitious look at how women’s roles have changed—and stayed the same—over the last 70 years.
Pub Date: June 11, 2019
Page Count: 480
Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 6, 2018
A tour de force.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
In 1974, a troubled Vietnam vet inherits a house from a fallen comrade and moves his family to Alaska.
After years as a prisoner of war, Ernt Allbright returned home to his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, a violent, difficult, restless man. The family moved so frequently that 13-year-old Leni went to five schools in four years. But when they move to Alaska, still very wild and sparsely populated, Ernt finds a landscape as raw as he is. As Leni soon realizes, “Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now. If you wanted to pray to a weirdo god or live in a school bus or marry a goose, no one in Alaska was going to say crap to you.” There are many great things about this book—one of them is its constant stream of memorably formulated insights about Alaska. Another key example is delivered by Large Marge, a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who now runs the general store for the community of around 30 brave souls who live in Kaneq year-round. As she cautions the Allbrights, “Alaska herself can be Sleeping Beauty one minute and a bitch with a sawed-off shotgun the next. There’s a saying: Up here you can make one mistake. The second one will kill you.” Hannah’s (The Nightingale, 2015, etc.) follow-up to her series of blockbuster bestsellers will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet–like coming-of-age story, and domestic potboiler. She re-creates in magical detail the lives of Alaska's homesteaders in both of the state's seasons (they really only have two) and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America.A tour de force.
Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017
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by Lisa Jewell ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 24, 2018
Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.
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
Page Count: 368
Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018
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