Hornby is as charming as ever in this nimble, optimistic take on the social novel.

JUST LIKE YOU

Love in the time of Brexit: A 42-year-old white schoolteacher falls for the 22-year-old black kid behind the counter at the butcher shop.

“It was a time when everyone was vowing never to forgive people. Politicians were never going to be forgiven for what they had done, friends and family were never going to be forgiven for the way they had voted, for what they had said, maybe even for what they thought. Most of the time, people were not being forgiven for being themselves.…And could you only love someone who thought the same way as you, or were there other bridges to be built further up the river?” Hornby’s latest focuses on an interracial, intergenerational relationship that begins a few months before the Brexit vote in 2016 and continues through the U.S.'s own bummer election, with a final chapter skipping ahead two years. Finally separated from the atrocious and not-quite-yet-recovered alcoholic she married, Lucy is ready to brave the dating pool and asks the young man who wraps up her roasts whether he knows anyone who might babysit. Her sons, devoted soccer players, are 10 and 8. Joseph is already babysitting for another family as well as coaching soccer, working at the public rec center, and DJ-ing to make ends meet—“a portfolio,” as an acquaintance encouragingly describes it—while still living at home with his mum. He takes the job, and when Lucy’s first couple of setups fizzle, the two give in to their urges. As smoothly as they fit together when it’s just the two of them (they think they’re hiding it from the boys), there’s friction galore once they leave the house. The race thing, the age thing, and then there’s Brexit. Everyone Lucy knows is voting "stay" while Joseph’s dad, who works construction, is voting "leave." The guy who owns the butcher shop wants to put up whichever poster will be best for business, and most of Joseph’s friends can’t be bothered to care. The fans Hornby has won with his comely backlist—High Fidelity (1995), About A Boy (1998), How To Be Good (2001), etc.—might not change their favorite but they won’t be disappointed.

Hornby is as charming as ever in this nimble, optimistic take on the social novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-19138-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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