A wholesome and uplifting tale of rediscovered hope, love, and second chances, perfect for fans of breezy, beachy fiction.

THE GIFTS OF PELICAN ISLE

A young woman, devastated by the loss of her husband and unborn child, relocates to a remote island where the local culture helps her learn to live again. 

Gerler (Lessons I Learned from Nick Nack, 2014, etc.) introduces the story’s heroine, Ally Albright, after she has hit rock bottom. Ally mourns her husband and baby, who were killed when the family car was struck by a drunk driver. Emotionally ravaged and teetering on the edge of a psychotic breakdown, Ally has lost the will to live. She has abandoned her career as a teacher and spends her days closeted in her childhood bedroom. Her concerned parents, who have been nursing her through her grief, can’t figure out how to rouse her from her misery. Then one day, everything changes. A former professor contacts Ally, requesting that she help a struggling school. Located on a remote island off the coast of North Carolina, Pelican Isle Elementary is desperate for a first-grade teacher. Ally’s professor, Dr. Betsy Brown, persuades her to fill in temporarily, until a permanent replacement can be found. Within a matter of days on the island, Ally’s life, as well as her outlook, begins to evolve. Although school supplies and state funding are sorely lacking at Pelican Isle Elementary, enthusiasm for education and community spirit are present in abundance. As the Pelican Isle residents embrace Ally, she begins to find new purpose. When a local woman comes to her for help with a heart-wrenching conundrum, Ally begins to realize just how much Pelican Isle means to her. The fast-paced narrative style offers a host of plot twists and unexpected developments for the denizens of sleepy Pelican Isle that should keep readers eagerly turning pages. Gerler’s writing is replete with compassion and grace as she addresses issues of poverty, nationality, loss, and love that arise on this small island. At one point, Ally reads a volume of sonnets, a Christmas gift from a Pelican Isle denizen: “The cadence of the lines felt lovely as I spoke the words, so soft and tender. The poems were of love, and they touched my heart. Maybe I’d just never given sonnets a chance.” With finesse and wit, the author depicts the power of kindness in healing the human heart. 

A wholesome and uplifting tale of rediscovered hope, love, and second chances, perfect for fans of breezy, beachy fiction.

Pub Date: May 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5306-9168-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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