Compassionate, well-crafted poems that look unflinchingly at loss, grief, and the tides of history.

GOING HOME

This volume of poetry thoughtfully considers national and personal upheavals.

In her latest collection, Richardson includes pieces from her two chapbooks and a full-length collection, An Everyday Thing (2018), alongside new poems, some previously appearing in literary magazines. In the six sections of the work, the author documents her experiences with the ghosts of memory, beginning with her native steel-mill town of Youngstown, Ohio. The Rust Belt is rich ground for poets responding to the ambiguities of a lost industry: In Youngstown, “the sky was a leaden haze, / where the soot was called ‘pay dirt.’ ” The book’s sequence then follows a trajectory through political engagement on behalf of justice, the shootings at Kent State University, the teaching of children with speech difficulties, marriage and family, illness and death, and, finally, homecoming. Richardson’s graceful lines have a striking clarity and discipline. In “Fathers,” the speaker remembers her own absent father and a friend’s abusive one, writing that she “thought this must / be what fathers do. Leave your life / or push you from your body.” In the wake of such absence, daughters anticipate a return, “his pale hands reaching out for you,” seven words that create a haunting, indelible sense of the uncanny. In several poems, the author attends to the voiceless, especially those caught in systems or conditions not of their own making. “The photos speak for themselves,” says the judge in “Kent State Trial, 1975.” But they don’t: “The photos held their tongues.” Work, so often the subject here, suggests a way to transform the past, as in the concluding poem, “Lost.” Lost in the woods and at a dead end, the speaker backtracks, discovering “the intersection where I / went wrong”—the only way to choose a different path.

Compassionate, well-crafted poems that look unflinchingly at loss, grief, and the tides of history.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-952326-22-6

Page Count: 87

Publisher: Kelsay Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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