A promising tale with quirky characters and fresh insights, marred by a predictable deus ex machina.

Cancer Faith & Butterflies

HOW DO YOU BELIEVE WHEN YOUR WORLD FALLS APART?

A young father faces Joblike trials in this debut Christian novel.

Joey lost both parents in a tragic accident. Now he faces losing the love of his life, Brooke, to breast cancer. Shuffling between the hospital, his home, and work, he reminisces about happier times and wonders how Brooke can maintain her faith in God. His doubt is echoed by Jim Anderson, whose preteen son Jimmy fights cancer in the hospital room next door. Jimmy and Brooke die on the same day, and Joey is left to raise his 8-month-old daughter, Sara, with the help of his sister, Carroll. Like Brooke, Carroll is a Christian. Before Brooke’s funeral, Joey yells at God and accidentally rousts a homeless man, Billy Jones, squatting on the church steps. Billy reveals that Brooke had been kind to him, giving him food and attending services with him over the objections of congregants. Billy also exhorts Joey to find strength in his faith, but the protagonist feels that everywhere he turns he encounters Christians but never God or any real answers. When a lump is discovered below his daughter’s left shoulder, Joey becomes frightened: Brooke had been diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with Sara. A biopsy reveals a malignant tumor, and Joey lashes out at those he loves and recklessly confronts an enemy. Sanchez develops his characters through humorous, astute dialogue and situations, and his writing shines when describing Joey’s and Brooke’s first meeting and Joey’s mentor-friendship with Jimmy. At one point, Joey takes the boy for a ride in his red Chevy (“He looked free as a bird just sitting there with his eyes closed and a smile on his face. It was like all the months in the hospital, the chemo, the pain, had all just melted away…No words were spoken, just the wind in our hair and the hum of the engine”). Joey’s agony over Brooke’s death and his questions about God in the face of it are handled deftly and delicately, but later, the novel spirals into melodrama and propaganda. A convenient set of “coincidences” finally convinces Joey of God’s existence, but his earlier questions remain unanswered. Furthermore, a key scene, in which the police release Joey after only a brief interrogation when he assaults a man, and a natural event that “scientists can’t explain” lack credibility.

A promising tale with quirky characters and fresh insights, marred by a predictable deus ex machina.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 46

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 45

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more