YINKA, WHERE IS YOUR HUZBAND?

A 31-year-old British Nigerian Oxford graduate is driven bonkers by the quest to find a man and a job on a very tight schedule.

Her younger sister is already married and pregnant, her best friend is engaged, her other best friend is becoming more of a frenemy, and her mother and aunties are "praying over her love life as if [she's] terminally ill." Poor Yinka is losing it. Instead of the promotion she expected at work, she's made redundant but has bragged so much about the move up that she's too embarrassed to tell anyone the truth. When pressured by her posse to set a "bridesmaid goal," she vows to get a date for the wedding (and, secretly, to get a job, before people find out the truth). Debut novelist Blackburn enlivens her account of Yinka's frantic quest by interspersing Google search histories, text conversations, and a series of flip charts with neon Post-it messages and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) plotting out OPERATION WEDDING DATE: MY PLAN TO WIN ALEX AND HAVE A DATE FOR RACHEL’S WEDDING IN JULY!!! "Be more in touch with Nigerian culture"; "Learn a few Yoruba words"; "Increase my bum size by eating more pounded yam and doing 50 squats daily" are among the tasks she sets for herself—but since she knows this whole thing makes her look crazy, she keeps her "operation" a secret, too. Meanwhile, disappointments keep piling up as well as anxieties due to colorism, texturism, and Yinka's commitment to remain a virgin until her wedding day. After the Alex plan crashes and burns and she blows off the nerdy guy at church who clearly cares for her, only to see him pair up with a young hottie, things go seriously south in the mental health department. A liberal salting of patois—"Duh yuh waah your ier dun?" "Abeg. Give her a discount, ehn?"—and the deployment of comic Nigerian types (her mother, the aunties, the other members of her church) firmly root this novel in a community depicted with warmth and humor.

A sassy, spirited story.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-59-329900-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.

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DEMON COPPERHEAD

Inspired by David Copperfield, Kingsolver crafts a 21st-century coming-of-age story set in America’s hard-pressed rural South.

It’s not necessary to have read Dickens’ famous novel to appreciate Kingsolver’s absorbing tale, but those who have will savor the tough-minded changes she rings on his Victorian sentimentality while affirming his stinging critique of a heartless society. Our soon-to-be orphaned narrator’s mother is a substance-abusing teenage single mom who checks out via OD on his 11th birthday, and Demon’s cynical, wised-up voice is light-years removed from David Copperfield’s earnest tone. Yet readers also see the yearning for love and wells of compassion hidden beneath his self-protective exterior. Like pretty much everyone else in Lee County, Virginia, hollowed out economically by the coal and tobacco industries, he sees himself as someone with no prospects and little worth. One of Kingsolver’s major themes, hit a little too insistently, is the contempt felt by participants in the modern capitalist economy for those rooted in older ways of life. More nuanced and emotionally engaging is Demon’s fierce attachment to his home ground, a place where he is known and supported, tested to the breaking point as the opiate epidemic engulfs it. Kingsolver’s ferocious indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, angrily stated by a local girl who has become a nurse, is in the best Dickensian tradition, and Demon gives a harrowing account of his descent into addiction with his beloved Dori (as naïve as Dickens’ Dora in her own screwed-up way). Does knowledge offer a way out of this sinkhole? A committed teacher tries to enlighten Demon’s seventh grade class about how the resource-rich countryside was pillaged and abandoned, but Kingsolver doesn’t air-brush his students’ dismissal of this history or the prejudice encountered by this African American outsider and his White wife. She is an art teacher who guides Demon toward self-expression, just as his friend Tommy provokes his dawning understanding of how their world has been shaped by outside forces and what he might be able to do about it.

An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-325-1922

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

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FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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