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I HOPE THIS FINDS YOU WELL

A beautiful, honest, and often funny look at loneliness and the courage it takes to simply keep going.

When a friendless office worker inadvertently finds herself able to read her co-workers’ emails, she hatches a plan to become a star employee.

Jolene Smith doesn’t fit in at work. She doesn’t socialize with her co-workers or even engage in small talk—in fact, she’s pretty sure they’re all making fun of her behind her back. Jolene takes out her frustration by writing her real thoughts (“Deep in my core, I find you insufferable”) at the end of her emails in white text, so they’re invisible to the recipients—but when she forgets to change the text color in a diatribe against a co-worker who microwaved an especially smelly lunch, she gets caught. She’s forced to attend an anti-harassment course with the new HR guy, Clifford. Jolene is humiliated, especially when Cliff sets up new security measures on her computer. But Jolene quickly notices that there’s an unintended consequence to the changes—now she’s able to read everyone’s emails and messages. She can see the terrible things her co-workers are saying about her from the safety of their keyboards…but she can also gather intel that could help her improve her performance. With her insider knowledge, Jolene is able to do better work and start connecting with her colleagues for the first time. She also starts to realize that Cliff the HR guy is very nice—even if he is very off-limits. As Jolene gets to know her co-workers better, she sees that they all have their secret heartbreaks and struggles, just like her. But will she be able to let people see the real Jolene? In her debut, Sue creates a vivid portrait of a truly lonely, heartbroken woman. Anyone who has worked in an office will appreciate the level of detail Sue uses to describe the experience—the particular bleakness of a sad office party, the petty gossip, the alliances and enmities. Jolene starts out afraid of connection and unable to view her coworkers as anything other than adversaries. It’s immensely satisfying to see her accept that other people might actually like her, if only she has the courage to be known.

A beautiful, honest, and often funny look at loneliness and the courage it takes to simply keep going.

Pub Date: yesterday

ISBN: 9780063320369

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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LONG ISLAND

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

An acclaimed novelist revisits the central characters of his best-known work.

At the end of Brooklyn (2009), Eilis Lacey departed Ireland for the second and final time—headed back to New York and the Italian American husband she had secretly married after first traveling there for work. In her hometown of Enniscorthy, she left behind Jim Farrell, a young man she’d fallen in love with during her visit, and the inevitable gossip about her conduct. Tóibín’s 11th novel introduces readers to Eilis 20 years later, in 1976, still married to Tony Fiorello and living in the titular suburbia with their two teenage children. But Eilis’ seemingly placid existence is disturbed when a stranger confronts her, accusing Tony of having an affair with his wife—now pregnant—and threatening to leave the baby on their doorstep. “She’d known men like this in Ireland,” Tóibín writes. “Should one of them discover that their wife had been unfaithful and was pregnant as a result, they would not have the baby in the house.” This shock sends Eilis back to Enniscorthy for a visit—or perhaps a longer stay. (Eilis’ motives are as inscrutable as ever, even to herself.) She finds the never-married Jim managing his late father’s pub; unbeknownst to Eilis (and the town), he’s become involved with her widowed friend Nancy, who struggles to maintain the family chip shop. Eilis herself appears different to her old friends: “Something had happened to her in America,” Nancy concludes. Although the novel begins with a soap-operatic confrontation—and ends with a dramatic denouement, as Eilis’ fate is determined in a plot twist worthy of Edith Wharton—the author is a master of quiet, restrained prose, calmly observing the mores and mindsets of provincial Ireland, not much changed from the 1950s.

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781476785110

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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