An absorbing tale of mystery and romance, rich with symbolism and elements of magical realism.

Everything Solid Has a Shadow

In Antman’s (Cherry Whip, 2004) novel, a Chicago marketing consultant grapples with reality and illusion as he strives to regain his footing in life.

Carlos “Charlie” Xavier Alessandro is a man haunted by his past and conflicted in the present. He’s an American who eschews his Argentine heritage and a businessman by day and a sensitive singer/songwriter by night. His life was irrevocably altered at age 8 when a baby in his care accidentally died. After the child’s grief-stricken mother confronted him, he was imprinted with a lifelong fear of women’s disapproval and a fervid determination to never have children. Charlie and his parents fled back to Argentina after the incident; soon after, the boy’s mother and father became alcoholics, making him believe that he ruined their lives. He eventually returned to the United States, and as the story opens, he’s enjoying the seemingly perfect life he’s created for himself with a high-paying job and a beautiful girlfriend. But disturbing dreams and personal and professional betrayals blow his carefully crafted existence apart. Out of work and alone, increasingly unable to eat or find solace, Charlie feels compelled to pursue the ghosts of his past and makes shattering discoveries. Antman divides the tale into three parts, each named for a woman in Charlie’s life—his girlfriend, a childhood friend who shares his shame, and a lost soul of a waitress, MariAngela, who works at the nightclub where he performs. Each section is permeated with details of Charlie’s struggle to recall and reconcile memories that may or may not be true. The characters, especially MariAngela, are finely drawn, and her story is especially poignant. The narrative has a dreamlike quality, emphasized by an almost stream-of-consciousness writing style that can be challenging to follow at times. Some readers may also find the episodes of psychic intuition and clairvoyance hard to swallow, but they do illuminate dark corners of Charlie’s mind. His evolution from a man obsessed by death and constrained by fear to someone capable of embracing life is convincing and emotionally satisfying.  

An absorbing tale of mystery and romance, rich with symbolism and elements of magical realism. 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2016

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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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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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