A gloomy, sometimes-alarming tale of alcoholism, one that questions whether a drunk can blame the drink or his own...

AFTER THE RACE

Jones’ somber first novel is the story of a man whose alcoholism weighs on his own life and the lives of his family, particularly his teenage son.

Working as an electrician, Wayne Reed was knocked off a ladder by a live wire—an 18-foot drop that left him with a mangled foot. While his wife, Emily, is stationed in Guam with the Navy, Wayne largely ignores his 15-year-old son, Charles, and invests the family’s meager finances in an excess of booze. Not much changes when Emily returns, until the tire company, whose negligence resulted in Wayne’s injury, avoids further legal troubles by offering the Reeds nearly $1.7 million. Wayne talks Emily into moving to an apple orchard, where they can live and run the business. But Wayne—still hung up on Cassandra, with whom he had an affair years ago—has no plans on saving his family. Meanwhile, Charles, an intelligent young man and accomplished runner, joins the high school track team, but his father’s continued drinking threatens to squander any hope of happiness for the Reed family. Jones’ bleak novel is almost completely devoid of comedic or lighthearted moments. But it’s also engrossing. Wayne’s behavior is self-obsessive, and seemingly everything he does, from reuniting with Cassandra to spending much of his time at a bar, adversely affects everyone he knows. Split into four parts, the book mostly covers about two years in the early 1990s, but the most illuminating section is Part 2, a flashback to several months between 1986 and 1987, when Wayne’s assignment for the Army Reserves was more an extended affair with Cassandra. It’s a comprehensive display of his disinterest in marriage as well as the physical and emotional mistreatment of Charles; for instance, Wayne insists he run a 10K so the father can slyly introduce his son to his mistress. The latter half of the novel devotes perhaps too much to Wayne, who does little more than drink while boasting about his Porsche and fruitlessly attempting to repair his relationship with Cassandra. Charles, on the other hand, gradually turns into the more compelling of the two; he begins his own downward spiral when his anger surfaces, thanks in part to an incident that puts him in the hospital and sidelines his running. From there, a disturbing concept arises: Charles may someday become the same man he fears and despises.

A gloomy, sometimes-alarming tale of alcoholism, one that questions whether a drunk can blame the drink or his own wickedness.

Pub Date: April 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988886421

Page Count: 440

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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