A compelling and candid tale about starting over in a beguiling environment.

GROWLAND

A Los Angeles teacher leaves her job and her husband and moves with her two daughters to start a new life in Humboldt County in this debut novel.

As she approaches her mid-40s, Celeste feels that her life in Southern California is empty. She has a good career in education, but she is unhappy with her philandering husband, Victor. She decides to leave him and take her daughters north to Humboldt County. She is thinking of Tom, an old boyfriend from 27 years ago who lives in the area. In Celeste’s memory, he’s still attractive and reliable, but many years have passed, and his appearance has changed. He’s also in a relationship with Luna, a dreadlocked woman who functions as the emotional pillar of the far-flung community. Tom and Luna generously offer a cabin to stay in, which Celeste gladly accepts even if she is perturbed by the ubiquitous presence of marijuana. Back in LA, Victor has hired a private investigator to find the missing trio, and up in South Humboldt, Celeste’s older daughter has taken a shine to Jonah, Tom and Luna’s son. Jake, Tom’s son from his first marriage, looks enticing to Celeste despite a sizable age difference. As Celeste begins to love her new home, she unwisely gets into a relationship with Jake while the ever present threat of the authorities looms over the isolated area where marijuana rules all. Moskowitz’s novel is written with the kind of rich details and realistic insights that insiders would know. She deftly describes this alternate world among the redwood forests as a place of refuge and healing, where the morality is pure but untamed and flirts with criminality. Sometimes, everything seems upside down in this realm (“In SoHum the rivers all flowed north, like the Nile”). Not every choice Celeste makes is stellar, but the tragedies are as integral to her vivid journey as the abundant benefits.

A compelling and candid tale about starting over in a beguiling environment.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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