A strong, stirring generational tale about a Russian family’s travails.

FORGET RUSSIA

A second-generation Russian Jew travels to Moscow for a semester abroad in 1980 looking for answers about her family history in this novel.

Anna, a college student, knows very little family lore. She was told that her great-grandmother Zlata was raped and killed during the Russian Revolution. Later, Anna’s grandparents, who met and married in America, willingly returned to Russia with their little girls—Anna’s mother and her younger sister—then fled back to the United States. The book’s narration alternates among time periods: the protagonist in the 1980s; her great-grandmother and Zlata’s daughter, Sarah, in 1917; and Anna’s grandparents’ sojourn in Russia in the early 20th century. Sometime after Zlata’s death, Sarah reluctantly went to America at her uncle’s behest (her father had gone there years before and started a new family). Sarah married Leon Vitsky, they had two daughters, and during the Depression that shook their faith in capitalism, off they went to Russia. In the present, Anna falls in love with young Iosif Belonsky, whose great-uncle Victor, by an uncanny coincidence, was a longtime friend of Leon’s. It was Victor who urged Leon to return to Russia and do his part in building the new and glorious Communist state. During her semester in Moscow, Anna discovers details about her family that will change her life. The book’s dedication suggests that the novel is close to Bordetsky-Williams’ family history. She is an experienced writer, and that shows in the craft and the passion behind this story. Especially moving and painful is the faith that Victor, a true believer, places in the new regime. He paints a picture for Leon of a Communist paradise when in fact conditions are worse there than in developing countries. Sarah is appalled, and Leon finally breaks free of Victor’s spell. But Victor believes in the dream even as he faces Stalin’s firing squad. The fatal consequences of idealism have never been clearer. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” has never been demonstrated more tragically. But readers get a vivid picture of ordinary Russians as warmhearted, giving people, making their plight all the more poignant.

A strong, stirring generational tale about a Russian family’s travails.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73284-804-7

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Tailwinds Press Enterprises LLC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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