For those who enjoy delving into characters and love to watch life unfold for others, this thought-provoking tale will...

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF EURIDICE GUSMAO

A charming family tale of the Gusmao sisters—whose lives diverge and eventually come together again.

The Gusmao family lives in Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s. Euridice worships teenage Guida; Guida tolerates Euridice. Volatile Guida battles her parents until the night she sneaks off with her forbidden boyfriend and doesn't return. Devastated, Euridice mourns the loss; her parents’ emotions run the gamut until they write off their eldest. Life goes on, and Euridice marries a sensible choice to please her parents and leaves home to live a lonely life despite her husband and two children. Driven to distraction by boredom, she struggles to fill her days with projects other than cooking and maintaining the home, hiding such ventures from her traditional husband, Antenor, who repeatedly quashes her ambitions when he discovers all that she's hidden from him. Discouraged, a now passively resistant Euridice becomes a mere shadow in the background. Guida unexpectedly returns with her son and a wild tale of her broken relationship, and Euridice’s spirit fills with life once again. Batalha's well-rounded characters show how beliefs and decisions—whether acted on openly, as Guida does, or covertly like Euridice—affect their own lives and the lives of others. Batalha portrays the bleakness that can arise in marriage—not an absence of love as much as an absence of appreciating the other’s needs or, conversely, of sacrificing one's own needs. Be prepared to love invisible Euridice, who has so much more to offer than the confines of life in Rio allowed at the time. And be prepared to want to kick her in the butt and say, "Come on, woman! Don't give in!" She doesn't.

For those who enjoy delving into characters and love to watch life unfold for others, this thought-provoking tale will satisfy. A worthy debut for Batalha, full of wry humor.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78607-172-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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