A sometimes-exhausting but realistic portrait of life under physical duress.

You're Still Sick?

A young woman with chronic illness takes matters into her own hands in this debut novel.

Adrea “Drea” Ragnason can’t find a doctor who understands her. Her symptoms, from fatigue to baldness to acne to fainting spells, have come to define her. Her latest physician, Dr. Natsker, has the same dismissive bedside manner as other doctors Drea’s seen: one thinks she’s fainting because of stress from her final exams, while another believes that she just needs to exercise more. Luckily, her aunt, Betty, with whom she works at a bus station ticket booth, is sympathetic and compassionate, though Drea’s mother, Iris, is well-meaning but irritating. One morning Drea decides that the solution to her problems is to visualize her doctors as suffering from the same symptoms she has, and she does so in her journal. Meanwhile, Dr. Helene Gundersen, a talented psychologist, has just opened her own practice in a sunny, welcoming cottage; soon, some of her patients complain of terrible health issues. Betty helps Drea find an apartment above a flower shop owned by Otto, a widower who encourages her to continue to be more vocal with her doctors. When the opportunity comes for Drea to move into Otto’s house and help him open a plant nursery, she’s happy to do so. But she continues to have fainting spells and fatigue and demands to be tested for polycystic ovary syndrome. It’s revealed that some of Dr. Gundersen’s patients are also Drea’s doctors, and they come to realize that their lack of empathy for their patients is humiliating and frustrating when the tables are turned. Overall, this novel could have used more nuance, which might have elevated the novel from a litany of woes to a true exploration of empathy. It also takes a while for Dr. Gundersen’s role in the novel to become clear, and the epiphanies that her patients have are often heavy-handed. That said, the story does an excellent job of portraying the relentless difficulties of suffering from hard-to-treat, chronic illnesses. The characters that love Drea despite her issues are a welcome contrast to the self-pity that sometimes colors other chapters. Deck also considers Drea’s plight from several angles, including how it may be affected by gender bias. Although the novel ends abruptly, its message of self-advocacy and love is palpable.

A sometimes-exhausting but realistic portrait of life under physical duress. 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

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

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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

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

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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

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