A lyrical narrative tapestry that expresses a lifetime of love and lament.


A diverse selection of existential poems that chronicle ongoing emotional journeys.

One the main themes of this lush tapestry of poetic works is self-examination—peeling back layers of one’s experiences to understand one’s identity and what one can become through that understanding. To that end, the 50 poems in this collection, which won the 2020 Wilder Series Poetry Book Prize, often bare the souls of their speakers. In the powerhouse “Boxing Day,” for example, the speaker remembers finding her alcoholic brother dead in their parents’ house on the day after Christmas, and her regrets are brilliantly symbolized by an image of a “raggedy / home-sewn angel / atop her green and spiky / throne…watching the whole thing unravel.” In “Legacy,” the speaker, who’s now a parent herself, grapples with a painful memory of her mother: “I tried to peel my mother’s words from my head, remove them like tape from the backs of poems I’d pressed to office walls in need of clearing when I left. But another layer of beige paint—stripped.” Other poems in this book address such topics as the era of Donald Trump’s presidency (“Tender Cages”), a son’s post-top surgery (“Through a Window in Winter” and “As He Now Lets Fall”) and the Covid-19 pandemic (“Ghost Campus” and “Sissy Spacek Telekinesis Ain’t Got Nothin’ on a Pandemic,” the latter of which references the bloody 1976 horror film Carrie).

One of the most noteworthy aspects of this collection, as a whole, is how the poems subtly blend together images and ideas to create a powerful, cumulative effect. In “Pasiphae,” for example, the title character contemplates having sex with the Cretan Bull and considers what offspring that union could produce: “What rough beast is born of our coupling / will suckle at my breast / swaddled in unraveled leagues / of my sea-like hair.” Much later in the collection, the Minotaur returns, as does the labyrinthine imagery, in the poem “Labyrinth,” which begins with “Here we are at the entrance again.” In “No One Told Me About the Death,” the speaker’s parents perch like birds on the couch on Christmas morning: “Mother fed us pie, father, seeds of grief. / Birds on a couch, a wire, they waited / To feel filled up / With more than pie and seeded grief. / We ate ourselves in silence.” That imagery of birds feeding their young is effectively revisited in “Stilled Life,” in which the speaker and her two brothers—both suicides—are likened to baby birds: “We learned to open wide and swallow it all—liquor, pills, the barrel of a gun, when it came to that.” As the collection goes on, these connections contribute to its three-dimensional, immersive quality, which readers may liken to experiencing a sprawling art exhibit. And, like the works of visual art in such exhibits, these poems, and their kaleidoscopic images, will resonate with readers for a long time after they’ve closed the book.

A lyrical narrative tapestry that expresses a lifetime of love and lament.

Pub Date: April 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-948767-16-3

Page Count: 119

Publisher: Two Sylvias Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.


When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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