Greengrass digs deep below the surface to explore the human condition and presents the reader with unearthed truths to...

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SIGHT

This debut novel considers the intrinsic intimacy and distance between mother and daughter, from the perspective of a narrator who is both, as well as the struggle to clearly see one another and oneself.

A woman, pregnant with her second child, gazes out a window at her firstborn, a little girl, playing in the garden, and contemplates the deep sense of loss that accompanies her daughter's growth. “The weight of her body when I lift her takes me by surprise, its unfamiliarity a reiteration of the distance between us,” Greengrass’ narrator muses. “She used to clamber over me, her legs around my waist, her arms around my neck, as though I were furniture or an extension of herself, unthought-of or intimately known. Now she stands apart and I must reach for her, on each occasion a little further until it seems her progress towards adulthood is a kind of disappearing and that I know her less and less the more she becomes herself.” Juxtaposed against the woman’s meditation on motherhood is her loss of her own mother, some years before, when the narrator was 21 and “at that turning spot between adolescence and adulthood,” a death she continues to mourn and mull as the “defining event in [her] life,” fracturing it in two. She reflects, too, on her maternal grandmother, a psychoanalyst with whom she spent her childhood summers, absorbing her disciplined pursuit of self-knowledge. Interspersed between the narrator’s personal reflections are the stories of scientists who quite literally exposed mysteries that lay within human beings: the man who discovered the X-ray; the surgical team whose work, in the mid-18th century, shed new light on the anatomy of the pregnant female body; Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, and his daughter, Anna. Unflinchingly focused on life and death, love and loss, this book is not light reading. And while it has been labeled a novel, it is less a story—with a single dramatic arc and resolution—than it is a densely packed collection of clearly articulated insights on the struggle to bridge the gaps between ourselves and those to whom we yearn to be close, our efforts to define and take full measure of ourselves. It is novel as excavation.

Greengrass digs deep below the surface to explore the human condition and presents the reader with unearthed truths to ponder and pocket.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-57460-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Hogarth/Crown

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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