A powerful tale of homecoming and redemption.



A tragedy brings a physician back to her small hometown, where life changes await.

Readers of this debut novel first meet Dr. Erin Pryce when she’s the calm center of a catastrophe. A massive highway pileup has swamped her hospital, Boston General, filling every available space and bed with desperate, injured people and stretching the facility’s resources to the breaking point. Erin is matter-of-factly trying to direct the chaos—including delivering a baby from a nonresponsive mother—when she briefly encounters her ex-husband, Peter (he’s answered the all-hands-on-deck call for help in the emergency room), whose mistress also works at the hospital. Erin brushes it off, and by the end of the day, she’s back at her apartment, exhausted, when she gets a phone call from her old friend Jenna Godfrey, who lives in their tiny hometown of New Dublin, Wisconsin. Jenna delivers some bad news: She’s dying of cancer. Erin had already decided to leave Boston General, and now she impulsively resolves to return to New Dublin and care for Jenna until the end, however long that takes. When Erin makes the decision, she’s only thinking of Jenna’s needs. But also living in New Dublin is Luke Mathis, now a very busy and upstanding detective and a man who’s always been in love with Erin. Homecoming is bittersweet for the doctor; she has complicated memories of her grandparents; her mother is dead; and she associates the town with her father, who’s been in prison for years. In richly atmospheric and smoothly written chapters, Carothers shows Erin’s life in New Dublin as it quickly begins to change. She learns, for example, that her father has been released from prison and lives in town; she’s gently confronted by Jenna about her lack of faith in God; and most of all, she falls into a surprisingly heated relationship with Luke (“Let me help you find yourself, Erin,” he tells her). The author is very skilled at crafting characters and convincingly raising the emotional stakes; this is eminently satisfying reading.

A powerful tale of homecoming and redemption.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64388-034-1

Page Count: 460

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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