DECEMBER BREEZE

Man’s inhumanity to (wo)man couldn’t be made any clearer.

Barranquilla, Colombia, may have spawned a legendary group of male writers in the middle of the last century—Gabriel García Márquez included—but young women living there did not enjoy an equally magical time.

Moreno, an associate of García Márquez and the famed “Barranquilla Group,” delivers a comprehensive indictment of the conditions facing woman in that coastal Colombian city in the 1950s. Related from the point of view of the preternaturally observant Lina, who's looking back on her hometown from an expatriate life in Paris, the novel focuses on the experiences of three young women—Dora, Catalina, and Beatriz—exposing the city's sexual violence, misogyny, classism, and racism in sharp and unrelenting detail. Railroaded or goaded into marriages and relationships that rarely served to benefit their own sexual or financial interests, the three women experience varying degrees of disenchantment or outright self-destruction in the process. Shadowy Lina, whose life experiences seem to echo some of Moreno’s own, relates the advice and admonitions dispensed by a chorus of older women, her aunts and a grandmother, who have seen all the harms done by generations of men gone before. Each young woman’s story is told with elaborate attention to her history and lineage and those of the men who ensnare and inveigle her into nightmarish alliances. Patience is required to discern the interlocking web of family and professional connections within the provincial city, and the detail with which Moreno traces who wound up where, when, and with whom may be daunting to the casual reader. Translated into English for the first time since the novel’s publication in 1987, Moreno’s dense and incrementally meandering prose recites a litany of suffering layered upon suffering.

Man’s inhumanity to (wo)man couldn’t be made any clearer.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-60945-802-7

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

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

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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 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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