An adolescent faces his family of liars with a spirit reminiscent of Holden Caulfield.


Fifteen-year-old Ian Daly is a curious combination of hard-bitten adolescent and walking blind spot, a naïve old soul who knows too much and not nearly enough.

Ian makes a compelling narrator, the heart and soul of Cassidy’s debut novel. In a sense, he’s so self-aware that he comes to realize he isn’t: “Thinking back, there had been so many signs, clues that for a less gullible person would’ve shown the man behind the curtain pulling the strings, but I either failed to notice or wasn’t able to.” In Ian’s defense, he comes from a family of adept string-pullers. As the novel begins, he accompanies his older sister to his father’s funeral, where they’re stunned to learn about the old man’s first wife. And there are more shocks to come. Staying at his aunt’s house for the weekend, Ian takes us tripping through one adeptly arranged flashback after another, using a dry sense of humor to make sense of a deceit-laden life. Was his dad really trying to find a killer job, or was he drinking away his life with women not his wives? Did Ian’s mom really not know what was going on, or was she lying to her son all along? Cassidy keeps such questions bubbling beneath the surface of the novel and Ian’s consciousness; as the boy slowly figures things out, we feel bilked for him. The novel’s vivid upstate New York universe of blue-collar neighborhoods gives Ian’s surroundings a heavy coat of realism, as do the insecurities, sexual and otherwise, suffered by Ian and his few friends. Ian is a worthy literary cousin of Holden Caulfield, another kid with little tolerance for fakes and phonies and too much hard-won skepticism for his age. The grown-ups have let Ian down; now he must create himself.

An adolescent faces his family of liars with a spirit reminiscent of Holden Caulfield.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61775-757-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Kaylie Jones/Akashic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.


When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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