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ZORRIE

A touching, tightly woven story from an always impressive author.

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  • National Book Award Finalist

A woman’s life in rural Indiana takes shape amid dreams, losses, and fulfillment in this quietly effective work.

As in his past three novels, including In the House in the Dark of the Woods (2018), Hunt centers his narrative on a woman. But where those earlier characters faced war, racism, or sorcery, Zorrie Underwood’s ordeals may seem less extraordinary. Born early in the 20th century, she is a schoolgirl when she loses her parents to diphtheria. An aunt then raises her and dies when Zorrie is 21. She takes a job painting radium on clocks and gauges, and that lethal chemical sows an early seed of tension. She marries Harold, a good farming man with a hundred acres, but another fellow, the brooding Noah, also catches her eye. She miscarries in her only pregnancy, and then her husband’s bomber falls into the sea off Holland in 1943. For years thereafter, Zorrie works her farm and occasionally ponders the troubled Noah, whose story adds an almost gothic sidebar. The novel recalls the small but rich agrarian worlds of Meghan Kenny’s The Driest Season (2018) and Mariek Lucas Rijneveld’s The Discomfort of Evening (2020). But while those books depict brief periods of their characters' youth, Hunt manages in less than 200 pages to convey his heroine’s whole life, telescoping years and rarely departing from seasonal and small-town rhythms. His often lyrical prose traces Zorrie’s hopes, griefs, loneliness, and resolve with remarkable economy, although there are occasionally patches that sound forced. Thoughts of Harold find Zorrie musing on “the crisply chiseled tale of time told by the clocks and watches she had once helped paint faces for,” and so on for more than 100 words of rhetorical flight.

A touching, tightly woven story from an always impressive author.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-536-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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

GIRL ABROAD

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

A rock star’s daughter decides to study abroad in search of her own experiences, finding romance and intrigue along the way.

For 19-year-old Abbey Bly, having a rock star for a father isn’t as glamorous as it seems. For one thing, she shares her name with Abbey Road, and for another, the only version of the famous Gunner Bly she knows is the helicopter parent she lives with in Nashville. Hoping to find her way outside her father’s sphere of influence, Abbey decides to spend a semester in London studying European history at Pembridge University. Promising to keep her father updated on every aspect of life abroad, Abbey heads to her shared apartment expecting to find three female roommates…only to find that she’s actually living with three men. Afraid that Gunner will order her home, Abbey decides to keep Lee, Jack, and Jamie’s gender a secret (lucky their names sound androgynous!) and sets her sights on adventure. While working on a research project about a mysterious painting and adapting to Britain’s drinking culture, Abbey finds time to explore a little romance despite her housemates’ strict no-fraternizing rule. First there’s Jack, a commitment-phobic Australian hottie who can’t seem to stay away from Abbey; then there’s Nate, a sexy bassist who keeps forgetting he’s taken. Toying with nonexclusive relationships and exploring her sexuality, Abbey can’t help but feel excited about all the experience she’s gaining, but has she really, truly found herself? Kennedy’s novel is a page-turner—who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and meet interested potential lovers down the hall? Abbey is a relatable character who yearns to stand outside her father’s shadow, and though the love triangle is a focal point, it never outshines the heroine’s growth.

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781728299792

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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