A choppy, experimental tale that follows some students and their teacher during a shift in their school’s curriculum.



A debut literary novel presents a kaleidoscopic view of the everyday passions and politics of high school.

Seniors Sialia Torres and James Malachite are students at Elysium Hills High School. Sialia studies art and finds beauty in the world around her while James plays soccer and goofs off with his friends. Their social circle revolves around the science classroom of Zach Tyndall, a 10-year veteran teacher who believes in his students even as he has started to become jaded by the job. Tyndall and the other teachers are angered over a new curriculum introduced by Principal Jonathan Stufa and an education consultant. “Spring Forward” is designed by a publishing company to align with standardized tests, though the teachers know that little of the money for three days of in-house training will actually make it to the classroom. The students chafe under the new conditions while learning about biology, art, and history as well as figuring out what they want out of life. A chunk of obsidian that Tyndall keeps on his desk becomes a window into the story of Cualli and Anci, two Aztec teens resisting conquistadors five centuries in the past, whose lives and growth mirror that of Sialia and James. Duff’s prose is highly lyric and fluid, zooming in and out of moments in a way reminiscent of modernist writers like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf: “So here they all sit together in the sunny science room; a particular place that most of these kids have spent so much time in over the last four years. Though not necessarily in a together fashion. It is a didactic poem unraveled, out of time.” The short chapters are essentially vignettes that jump around through time, and the narrative that emerges—such as it is—is fragmentary and somewhat difficult to parse. While some of the writing is strong, the dialogue is often awkward and unnatural. Moreover, the author’s palpable interest in what he views as a corrupt school system feels incongruous with the book’s mercurial structure. The novel demonstrates clear ambition, but it is not very much fun to read.

A choppy, experimental tale that follows some students and their teacher during a shift in their school’s curriculum.

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-47631-5

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.


In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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