A solid drama with a well-developed cast.

THE DIME

Two orphans create their own little family and overcome life’s obstacles in Paxson’s debut novel.

It was just another day at the Dime, a five-and-dime store in Northville, New York.Lily Madison, who works there, is watching high schoolers shop after school lets out for the day, worrying about her younger sister, Sophie, who’s also in high school. Their parents were killed in a car accident many years ago, which also left Sophie paralyzed from the waist down; since then, she’s had a tendency to withdraw into herself and refrain from socializing with her classmates. Teenager Pete Boynton just wants to have something special for his birthday, and since his abusive parents aren’t going to do anything for him, he decides to take matters into his own hands by stealing a shirt from the Dime. Lily catches him but offers him a deal: If he asks Sophie to the upcoming school dance, she’ll let him keep the shirt and won’t turn him in. Pete agrees, mostly due to his fear of what his father will do if the police are called. However, Sophie throws a wrench in their plans by taking the initiative—and asking Pete to the dance first. Unfortunately, the day of the dance doesn’t work out like they all hoped; instead, Pete shows up on Lily and Sophie’s doorstep bloody and bruised after being beaten by his dad. Because of this, the three form a bond that will change their lives. Paxson’s slice-of-life novel presents an unusual kind of found family in a story that’s character-driven and compelling. What’s most notable about the novel, though, is the author’s portrayal of the anxiety that Pete faces; early on, he describes it as being an octopus, and images of tentacles recur as Pete thinks and worries about various troublesome aspects of his life over the course of the story. The tragedies that Lily and Sophie have suffered also help to make them relatable characters, and the work’s secondary players, such as Pete’s parents and Lily’s friends the Anthems, also help to make this a consistently engaging read.

A solid drama with a well-developed cast.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: KingMidget Press Book

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2021

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

IT STARTS WITH US

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 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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