MAAME

A fresh, often funny, always poignant take on the coming-of-age novel.

After a loss, a young British woman from a Ghanaian family reassesses her responsibilities.

Her name is Maddie, but the young protagonist in George’s engaging coming-of-age novel has always been known to her family as Maame, meaning woman. On the surface, this nickname is praise for Maddie’s reliability. Though she’s only 25, she works full time at a London publishing house and cares for her father, who’s in the late stages of Parkinson’s disease. Maddie’s older brother, James, has little interest in helping out, and their mother is living in Ghana and running the business she inherited from her own father. When she needs money, she always calls Maddie, who shoulders these expectations and burdens without complaint, never telling her friends about her frustrations: “We’re Ghanaian, so we do things differently” is an idea that's ingrained in her. Her only confidant is Google, to whom she types desperate questions and gets only moderately helpful responses. (Google does not truly understand the demands of a religious yet remote African-born mother.) But when Maddie loses her job and tragedy strikes, she begins to question the limits of family duty and wonders what sort of life she can create for herself. With a light but firm touch, George illustrates the casual racism a young Black woman can face in the British (or American) workplace and how cultural barriers can stand in the way of aspects of contemporary life such as understanding and treating depression. She examines Maddie’s awkward steps toward adulthood and its messy stew of responsibility, love, and sex with insight and compassion. The key to writing a memorable bildungsroman is creating an unforgettable character, and George has fashioned an appealing hero here: You can’t help but root for Maddie’s emancipation. Funny, awkward, and sometimes painful, her blossoming is a real delight to witness.

A fresh, often funny, always poignant take on the coming-of-age novel.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-2502-8252-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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

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IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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