LUNGFISH

As startling and intense as the windswept landscape the book depicts.

A young family in crisis returns to an isolated family property in an attempt to survive.

Tuck’s grandmother is dead, and Tuck knows she left her house—“halfway out to sea” on a tiny island in the Gulf of Maine—to Tuck’s father in her will. The problem is that Tuck’s father is missing and has been for years, having struck out for Mexico when Tuck and her brother were just teens growing up in Indiana. The other problem is that Tuck’s life in Pittsburgh has fallen apart. She’s disoriented by new motherhood, and, worse, her husband, Paul, is disappearing for long stretches at a time and draining their finances. Soon, they have no choice but to load up their Volvo with their toddler daughter, Agnes, and the meager possessions remaining to them and squat at the Maine property, hoping to stay one step ahead of the executor of Tuck’s grandmother’s will, who is searching for the rightful next of kin, Tuck’s dad. Soon after arriving on the island, Tuck learns Paul’s secret: He is addicted to kratom, an herbal extract that mimics opioids. While Tuck does everything she can think of to keep herself and Agnes alive, including foraging seaweed, mushrooms, and mussels from the beach, the threads of her past and present tangle in increasingly dire ways. Gilliss is an extraordinary writer; passages of her debut novel read like poetry, and others read like a lyric essay, making use of surprising juxtaposition and associations, especially ones—lobster, lungfish—that derive from the harsh setting in which Tuck finds herself. With some writers, such style can disguise plot weaknesses, but Gilliss sidesteps that, too: The peril the family is in keeps the pages flying.

As startling and intense as the windswept landscape the book depicts.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64622-091-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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

GIRL ABROAD

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

A rock star’s daughter decides to study abroad in search of her own experiences, finding romance and intrigue along the way.

For 19-year-old Abbey Bly, having a rock star for a father isn’t as glamorous as it seems. For one thing, she shares her name with Abbey Road, and for another, the only version of the famous Gunner Bly she knows is the helicopter parent she lives with in Nashville. Hoping to find her way outside her father’s sphere of influence, Abbey decides to spend a semester in London studying European history at Pembridge University. Promising to keep her father updated on every aspect of life abroad, Abbey heads to her shared apartment expecting to find three female roommates…only to find that she’s actually living with three men. Afraid that Gunner will order her home, Abbey decides to keep Lee, Jack, and Jamie’s gender a secret (lucky their names sound androgynous!) and sets her sights on adventure. While working on a research project about a mysterious painting and adapting to Britain’s drinking culture, Abbey finds time to explore a little romance despite her housemates’ strict no-fraternizing rule. First there’s Jack, a commitment-phobic Australian hottie who can’t seem to stay away from Abbey; then there’s Nate, a sexy bassist who keeps forgetting he’s taken. Toying with nonexclusive relationships and exploring her sexuality, Abbey can’t help but feel excited about all the experience she’s gaining, but has she really, truly found herself? Kennedy’s novel is a page-turner—who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and meet interested potential lovers down the hall? Abbey is a relatable character who yearns to stand outside her father’s shadow, and though the love triangle is a focal point, it never outshines the heroine’s growth.

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781728299792

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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