THE LIGHT PIRATE

Catastrophic climate change seems all too real through the eyes of a Florida girl.

Climate apocalypse is the setting for a formidable young woman’s coming-of-age.

Kirby Lowe is a lineman for the utility company in the small town of Rudder in southeast Florida. With a huge hurricane heading in, he’s called to work before it arrives. He hates leaving his pregnant wife and his two young sons at home, but they’re prepared, or so they think. The first part of this novel is a harrowing description of that storm and the destruction it wreaks; the second part picks up 10 years later with Kirby and his surviving family: grown son Lucas and 10-year-old daughter Wanda, named for the hurricane during which she was born. In a convincingly portrayed near-future Florida, climate change has accelerated. The hurricanes come faster and fiercer, and the barrier island communities are already slipping under the sea. Kirby and Lucas, now also a lineman, have so much work that Wanda is often on her own, and her adventurous streak worries her father. He finds her an after-school caretaker, a retired biology professor named Phyllis, who turns out to be the perfect choice. Soon the pair are conducting field studies of the local flora and fauna, and Phyllis, who as a biologist and former park ranger has seen climate disaster coming for years, starts teaching the girl how to grow a garden, keep chickens, forage, and use other survival skills. As Wanda grows up, the waters rise higher and the summers blaze hotter, and climate refugees begin to flee the state. Before long, mostly depopulated towns shut down, then even big cities are abandoned. “Eventually,” the author writes, “the federal government announced the widespread closure of Florida as a whole, as if it were a rundown theme park with a roller coaster that was no longer safe to ride.” Those who remain—Wanda and Phyllis among them—are on their own. Brooks-Dalton creates an all-too-believable picture of nature reclaiming Florida from its human inhabitants, and her complex and engaging characters make climate disaster a vividly individual experience rather than an abstract subject of debate.

Catastrophic climate change seems all too real through the eyes of a Florida girl.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-0827-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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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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IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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