An engaging, bittersweet saga about finding a place to belong.

The Candy Store

An orphaned 1980s teenager travels through time to the Jazz Age to discover the mystery of her identity in this sweetly confected historical fantasia.

Found as a newborn in a Denver dumpster in 1966, Jett Oxford is a scruffy 16-year-old street kid when she finally finds a haven at the Watson’s Candies store, whose 70-something proprietors, Henry and Jay, take her in, teach her the pastry trade, and give her the loving family life she’s never known. Then a kitchen explosion hurls her back to the year 1927, which is all Model Ts and stiff foundation garments. She feigns amnesia and is deposited at the local orphanage, but she’s soon taken up by the now young and handsome Henry and his blithe flapper fiancee, Josephine Doyle (who might later be called Jay, Jett surmises), the daughter of a rich family. The Roaring ’20s has its pros, such as glamorous retro fashions and swell parties, and its cons, such as anti-Irish bigotry and a tragic lack of antibiotics. Despite having to learn contemporary slang (“That would just be the ant’s ear!”) and scandalizing everyone with her own unladylike outbursts—“THAT BITCH!”—Jett soon fits right in. Alas, her knowledge of things to come causes dilemmas: as a teenage girl, she has trouble persuading the grown-ups that the Great Depression is about to happen and that they need to sell their stock and withdraw their money before the banks collapse; more poignantly, she has to suppress her growing feelings for Henry, since she believes his marriage to Josephine is the key to her own future. Poague’s time-travel conceit makes no more sense than is strictly necessary to serve as a hook for a winsome melodrama. The story unfolds in blossoming friendships, makeovers, light romantic intrigues, and, finally, deeper familial joys and heartache. The author’s yen for intrusive economics lessons—“The system of state arbitration will drive labor costs up, rendering German goods uncompetitive on world markets” is typical dinner-table repartee—sometimes slows things down. Still, Poague’s vibrant characters and piquant period details make for an entertaining voyage into the past.

An engaging, bittersweet saga about finding a place to belong.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Ben Briar Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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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 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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