by Joe Meno ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 2015
A grandiose, atmospheric portrait of Middle America in all its damaged glory.
The mysterious gift of a snowy white quarter horse upends the rural existence of a family in Indiana.
Postmodernist Meno (Office Girl, 2012, etc.) changes things up dramatically with this ambitious attempt to reinvent the Faulkner-ian epic for the contemporary age. Where much of the author’s previous work has been based around twee tales of young adulthood and familial drama, here he draws on the grave themes and austere styles of writers like Cormac McCarthy and Daniel Woodrell to offer a mix of biblical allegories, tinder-dry prose, and noble characters trying to survive in a wretched world. The main character is Jim Falls, an aged Korean War vet who lives on a farm in southern Indiana. His daughter, Deirdre, is a drug-addicted mess who splits on her son, 16-year-old Quentin, whose care falls to Jim by default. One summer day a surprise delivery arrives in the form of a stunning quarter horse as the result of a legal error. Just as grandfather and grandson are gaining hope they might get to keep the magnificent animal, it's stolen by two meth-dealing brothers. The brothers intend to sell the horse in Kentucky, so Jim and his grandson chase them across the great American landscape of dive bars, truck stops, strip clubs, and Winn-Dixie shops, all presented in panoramic vistas. Eventually, Meno introduces a proper villain in Rick West, a sexually abusive grifter who eyes the horse as his prize. The novel’s prose is marvelous in its spare, convincing grit while the story’s themes of family, redemption, sacrifice, and faith echo the plays of Sam Shepard at times. The novel is occasionally trying too hard, particularly in its portrayals of racial issues in America (the novel is set in 1995 during the O.J. Simpson trial), but these small oversteps don’t distract from the novel’s elaborate emotional arc.A grandiose, atmospheric portrait of Middle America in all its damaged glory.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015
Page Count: 336
Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
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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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by Christina Lauren ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 10, 2018
With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.
Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.
Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.
Pub Date: April 10, 2018
Page Count: 416
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018
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