A funny, highly readable look at modern mom culture and the dangers of parenting in the age of viral videos.

LITTLE WONDERS

Two mothers struggle with the hypercompetitive world of their children’s elite New England preschool.

Quinn Barrett just wants everything to be perfect—her house, her job, her marriage, and, most importantly, her son’s preschool. That’s why she’s the Parent Association president, aka the person who gets everything done. But when her son refuses to wear his (homemade, of course) costume in the school Halloween parade, Quinn has an adult-size tantrum—and, unfortunately, it’s caught on video. Now Quinn is known as “Halloween Mom” on the internet and in the preschool halls. Daisy McGulch Stone, who just moved to town with her husband and daughter, was the one who took the video. She didn’t mean for it to go viral and ruin Quinn’s perfect image, but she can't tell anyone that now. As a blue-haired, tattooed, D&D–loving geek, she already doesn’t fit in, and she doesn’t want everyone to know she’s the reason their school is in the headlines; all she did was send the video to her best friend in California, who passed it along. However, Quinn and Daisy have more in common than they think, and they form an unlikely friendship that makes both of them feel more at home in their homogeneous surroundings. But as Quinn’s life keeps blowing up and Daisy attempts to be herself, both women must figure out how to make the best of circumstances they never expected. Rorick (The Baby Plan, 2018), who is also a television writer and producer, includes plenty of nerdy pop-culture references, and her chatty, slightly snarky voice makes the pages fly by. Daisy's and Quinn’s struggles to fit into their roles as mothers while following their career dreams are relatable and often hilarious. Refreshingly, Rorick resists the catty mom dynamic and makes even the meanest moms appear both sympathetic and human.

A funny, highly readable look at modern mom culture and the dangers of parenting in the age of viral videos.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287721-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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