Next book

BRUSH

A life-affirming, if fragmented, page-turner written in a refreshingly offbeat style.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

The lives of two strangers interconnect in unexpected ways in Anderson’s debut novel.

Chris is a Milwaukee-based tech whiz who, along with his friends, is in the process of developing an app that helps arborists find work. At the opening of the novel he’s pale, addicted to “things that made them feel alive or dead, depending on the need.” Jo is a divorced woman who owns a flower store in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, cares deeply for her community, and is tentative about getting involved in a romantic relationship. Chris’ app is an instant success, making him a multimillionaire. However, his new wealth leads him to become more introverted, and he turns to painting as an outlet. After his mother presents him with a paintbrush that belonged to his deceased father, his creations perplex him, and he begins to find himself in situations that exactly match his imagined paintings. Meanwhile, Jo wrestles with her feelings for Grant, a friend and employee, but is shocked by his xenophobic response when she hires a woman named Paj. Restless, Jo takes an impromptu trip to Zurich, where she meets the enigmatic Micha, a garden designer. They have an unforgettable evening together and then part ways. The novel follows Chris’ and Jo’s seemingly independent lives over the course of a year. Readers will be kept guessing how, if ever, the two strangers’ lives will connect.

This is an intriguing work of subtle magical realism and unconventional romance. Anderson shows off a delightful descriptive style that’s beautifully simple yet effortlessly evocative: “Every year she noticed the same old man walk past daily and pause, noticing new buds pop wide as if from a magician’s hand.” The author creates psychologically believable characters that develop as the novel progresses. It’s particularly interesting to observe how Chris matures from the “video games, porn, and the occasional programming language” aficionado of his graduate years to a man fully immersed in the creative process. There are moments when Anderson shares wise advice through minor characters; after Chris’ mother suffers a stroke, for example, he’s advised by his mother’s nurse: “Try to give yourself as few of those regrets as you possibly can. You might think you can’t climb this mountain. But you can.” On other occasions, the author effectively wields humor; while describing a visit to a nudist club, he writes, “Jo didn’t know if naked was the right word, since the man was wearing a cowboy hat.” The novel has notably short chapters, moving back and forth between Chris and Jo. It’s a notably disjointed approach, but it often quickens the pace of an already compelling work. Anderson’s characters sometimes impulsively partake in unexpected activities, such as Jo’s overseas trip, but this adds a further element of surprise to a plot that has many diverting twists and turns. Overall, Anderson’s debut is an intelligent celebration of life, love, and creative endeavor and often proves a joy to read.

A life-affirming, if fragmented, page-turner written in a refreshingly offbeat style.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9798988749301

Page Count: 610

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 119


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE WOMEN

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 119


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 88


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 88


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

Close Quickview