An earnest tale that explores the frictions of black-white romantic relationships.

A social novel tells the story of an interracial liaison disrupted by questionable criminal charges.

Sidonie Frame and Chris Hawkins are not the most obvious couple—she’s a white, suburban-raised manager of one of Chicago’s hottest music venues; he’s a black sound engineer from the South Side. But when Sidonie hires Chris sight unseen for a one-night event, they unexpectedly hit it off. The chemistry is real and intense, but is it a good idea? “This is crazy,” thinks Chris. “What am I thinking? This could jeopardize the job. Complicating my life right now is not a smart move. She’s so beautiful.…Is it the best idea to get involved with a white woman…and my boss?” They end up hooking up and then dating, but as they attempt to settle into the rhythms of each other’s lives, they discover that there is a learning curve to interracial dating. Neither of their families is completely accepting, and both partners are forced to reckon with their own pre-conceived notions of the other’s race. Sidonie, in particular, is compelled to recognize for the first time the prejudice that Chris routinely faces and her own white privileges. It isn’t always easy, especially during a series of uncomfortable encounters with the police that threaten to disrupt the balance of their relationship. This culminates in Chris being implicated in a rape case, forcing Sidonie to decide what she truly believes—and whether the relationship is worth all the trouble. Wilke’s (Hysterical Love, 2015, etc.) prose is cautious and empathetic, probing at the edges of politeness, taboo, and uncomfortable truth, as when Sidonie’s mother reacts to the news of Chris’ race: “Well, I guess I had no idea that was something that appealed to you, Sidonie.”  The book portrays only one—fairly conventional—interracial narrative and does so in what some might consider a heavy-handed fashion. But the directness and openness with which the author explores the topic as well as its continuing relevance make this a novel that will still read as daring to many.

An earnest tale that explores the frictions of black-white romantic relationships.

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-559-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2019


Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018


With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Close Quickview