An engaging orphanage tale with enough optimism to counterbalance the narrative’s distressing core.

THE LIFE OF RILEIGH

A coming-of-age novel focuses on a girl born in 1954 who spends her childhood and teenage years in and out of a small-town orphanage.

Rileigh Ophelia Horton, the charming narrator of this disturbing tale, is 6 years old when her unwed mother, Ophelia, suffers from an economic and emotional downward spiral. Ophelia places her daughter in The Margaret Lloyd Stansel’s Children’s Asylum of Abbottville, Georgia. Rileigh soon discovers that most of the kids in the orphanage, who supposedly have no one to care for them, do in fact have one or two living parents or at least an extended family. Despite the condemnation of society and her family, Ophelia had tried to raise the little girl on her own for six years. Sadly, Ophelia’s dependency on alcohol and her proclivity for poor choices in male companions finally took their toll. It is a terrifying first night for Rileigh, who thought her mamma was just taking her on a road trip. But she quickly bonds with four other 6-year-olds— Kirbie Jo Givens, Marla Norris, Loretta Thomas, and Marydale Brown. The five kids form a tight friendship, a sisterhood that lasts well after they have all aged out of the system. The novel is a collection of poignant, sometimes heartbreaking episodes that recall the hopes, bitter disappointments, and triumphs of the next 12 years of Rileigh’s life. Her mother’s visits are painfully rare. Several times, Ophelia brings her back home—until things fall apart again and Rileigh must return to the institution that she calls her “other home.” It is a sad story that contains a surprising buoyancy in spirit. These girls remain resilient in the face of mistreatment, even abuse. Eadie peppers her prose with the vernacular of the time and place, and Rileigh is always ready with a sarcastic, amusing description. Referring to the children in her elementary school who did not come from the orphanage, she says: “We had no more chance to be their friends than a cat in hell with gasoline drawers on.” But the author’s overuse of Rileigh’s standard transitional term anywho becomes irritating.

An engaging orphanage tale with enough optimism to counterbalance the narrative’s distressing core.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2022

ISBN: 979-8410158657

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Independently Published

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2022

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

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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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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