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VANISHING POINT.

An unflinching collection of poems from a bold literary voice.

Reyes presents a collection of poems exploring race.

The political is personal in this poetry collection that focuses on issues of race and the poet’s own identity as a Black Nuyorican woman. Reyes begins by contrasting a letter from Frederick Douglass, in which he praises the Irish’s treatment of him, with her own experience of racism as she traveled from England to Ireland. In “On the ghettoization of childless women,” she observes that “Life is shorter & narrower than it should be for / those of us not meant for your social security.” In “séance at the Beauty Parlor,”she compares Black women who use relaxer to elephants evolving to lose their tusks. Reyes incorporates research into her poems, sharing that at least 40% of White households in New York included a slave in 1711, as well as a New York Timesstatistic citing the alarming death rate of BIPOC women due to pregnancy-related causes. The author includes several visual elements, including victim sketches by the prolific serial killer, Samuel Little, as well as a copy of the 14th United States census circa 1920. Throughout the book, Reyes rails against marginalization and censorship by “well-meaning white folks.” But weariness seems to set in by the end: “Do you ever stop / & wonder what you too lost / Or nah, it’s cool here” (“ghost thought”). The author plays with form—even the color of the text—to suggest truth fading away. The writing is as clever as it is complex: In “The crow is barking up a storm,”the author writes, “Five black males talk, / they call it a murder.” Her descriptions strike a delicate balance between beauty and brutality, such as the “Crimson-black grapes” that “hang taut before / the harvesting / flame” that are part of the “cruel horticulture” of winemaking (“Paradise as tinder”).Reyes deftly combines historical fact with modern cultural touchstones such as director Tim Burton and the 23&Me DNA testing service. She also includes QR codes that link to YouTube readings of her work. The chaotic narrative could make some readers feel overwhelmed and unmoored—this may be the poet’s intention.

An unflinching collection of poems from a bold literary voice.

Pub Date: April 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781632431196

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Omnidawn

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2023

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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