A unique, emotional but uneven story.

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GLORIFY EACH DAY

A teacher comes to terms with guilt, grief and regret while teaching GED classes to a motley group of students.

Tommy “Teach” Morrison works as a part-time instructor in the GED program at Toxononomonee Community College. This semester, Teach has asked each student to write an essay on what “GED”—an acronym traditionally standing for General Educational Development or General Equivalency Diploma—means to them. The students, a mixed bunch, come up with answers ranging from “Green Eggs and Da Ham” to “Guys Evoke Disgust” to “Give Everything Daily.” Meanwhile, Teach struggles with more than one dark secret. His relationship with his girlfriend Cheryl is on the rocks, partly because he can’t stop thinking about his college girlfriend Cait. While Teach wrestles with his past, tragedy strikes the school, the aftermath of which—including some brief trumpeting of Teach as a national hero—only complicates his problems. Banks shifts perspective regularly, a technique that propels the story along. The second-person scenes with Cait—memories of Tommy’s relationship with his college girlfriend—occur too frequently and don’t necessarily go anywhere, but they add urgency and immediacy to the story. Outside of these scenes, the plot flounders. A major chunk of the book consists of essays by Teach’s students, and while some are moving, many feel more like elaborate jokes at the expense of the character doing the writing, with mean-spirited, stiff humor and an eruption of sexual puns. Gags revolve around things such as a congressman admitting to bestiality, non-native English speakers mispronouncing words, a slightly long, Native American-sounding county name and rappers. The book avoids dealing with the consequences of trauma and violence, and its believability suffers as a result. In the end, the book—like its main character—is too concerned with Cait, and not nearly concerned enough with what is happening in the moment.

A unique, emotional but uneven story.

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983333401

Page Count: 286

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2011

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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