A heavy, suspenseful North Carolina novel about parenthood, human connection, and how to make peace with the cards you’re...

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Heavy Weather

A CAROLINA COAST NOVEL

From the Carolina Coast Stories series , Vol. 2

Set in the coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina, Fischer’s (Becalmed, 2013, etc.) novel focuses on a multifarious cast whose very different lives end up intertwining in ways they never expected.

After being abused by her ex, Roy, young Annie Mac vows to protect her two children, Katie and Tyler. At the start of the novel, barbarous Roy comes to Annie Mac’s home to claim Katie, the 4-year-old biological daughter he has been sexually abusing. When he can’t find the young girl (she’s in hiding), he nearly beats Annie Mac to death before fleeing the scene to escape law enforcement. Fortuitously, while the beating is in progress, another Beaufort resident, Hannah Morgan, heads out to walk her dog, and she discovers Annie Mac’s two young children cowering in fear under a bush. After she makes sense of the scene, Hannah rushes to help Annie Mac, who asks her neighbor to care for the children while she receives medical care, pleading: “Hide my babies. Please. Please.” At first, Hannah and her husband, Matthew, who never had children, are hesitant to welcome two young strangers into their home, but Hannah begins to fall in love with the children and feel maternally protective of them. She also realizes that Roy is on the loose and willing to stop at nothing to get his hands on the little girl. As the novel unfolds, the entire town of Beaufort joins forces—from Clay, the closed-off, lonely police lieutenant, to Rita, the town lawyer who’s expecting a child herself—in an attempt to keep the family safe from its abuser. Fischer’s novel examines several weighty themes: domestic and sexual abuse, lost pregnancies, and the fear of letting one’s guard down to make a human connection. At times, the dark and depressing subject matter can feel too heavy, with no lightness built in to balance the bleakness. However, the book’s strengths lie in its suspense and vivid characters, whose personalities and small-town relationships are truly believable.

A heavy, suspenseful North Carolina novel about parenthood, human connection, and how to make peace with the cards you’re dealt.

Pub Date: March 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9861416-0-7

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Sleepy Creek Press

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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