An impeccably crafted love letter to the oft-unseen and ignored work of women across the world.

THE BRAID

True to its title, this novel, which was published as La Tresse in France in 2017, weaves together the stories of three intrepid women living in different countries.

In India, Smita demands a better life for her daughter than the one she has known as a member of the Dalit caste. In Italy, Giulia must secure her family’s future after an accident befalls her father, patriarch of the last traditional hairpiece and wig workshop in Palermo. And in Canada, Sarah faces breast cancer without support. Colombani tells these stories in concise chapters that alternate among the three women's points of view. While most of the novel unfolds in these close third-person perspectives, a few brief interludes, including a prologue and an epilogue, punctuate the narrative with the lyrical first-person voice of a fourth woman, adding even more texture and depth to the already charming story of how these women’s lives connect. Colombani’s prowess as a film and theater writer is on full display. The prose hums along without fuss, and several chapters end with terrific suspense. Only occasionally does the story stall, as when the author shoehorns in exposition to make a point about gender inequality or when she oversteps by making too direct a comparison between characters’ lives. Smita's, Giulia's, and Sarah’s individual stories and how they’re interconnected are strong enough elements on their own without any false equivalencies. While the novel presents a romanticized version of globalization, it’s unapologetic about its agenda of celebrating the bonds of womanhood. The story’s masterful structure and plotting more than make up for the narrative’s rose-colored glasses.

An impeccably crafted love letter to the oft-unseen and ignored work of women across the world.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3003-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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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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