Perfectly observed and tremendously moving: This will strike a resonant chord with parents everywhere.


Davies’ rigorously truthful examination of fatherhood explores the fallout from an abortion and the difficulties that follow a second pregnancy.

Prenatal tests suggest—but not conclusively—that something is very wrong with their unborn child, and an unnamed couple decides on an abortion. The next pregnancy proceeds normally until the baby turns blue on the delivery table and is whisked off to intensive care. Everything seems to be fine; their son comes home after four days, and they settle down to the sleep-deprived routine of life with an infant. But they panic when he cries, and when he does fall asleep, they stand outside his door listening to make sure he’s breathing. In a third-person narrative from the father’s point of view, Davies unsentimentally captures the mind-numbing tedium coupled with blinding love that new parents feel in prose as spare as it is emotionally resonant. When the boy’s preschool teacher “has concerns” even readers without children are likely to share the parents’ dread and anguish. The narrative moves briskly through key episodes: The son gets all kinds of physical and occupational therapy, the spouses go back to work (she’s at a university press, he’s a writer and teacher), their marriage is strained, the boy’s kindergarten teacher hints he might be autistic. His parents can’t bear to get him tested: “They’ve been afraid of tests for so long. All his life.” Their uncertainty over the abortion will never be resolved (references to Schrödinger’s cat abound), and the husband’s decision to volunteer as an escort at an abortion clinic infuriates his wife, who snarls, “You act like it happened to you!” It’s a tribute to Davies’ skill and sensitivity that we feel how much they still love each other despite bad sex, jealousies, and endless worry over their son. When they finally have him tested, the results are once again ambiguous, but they are learning to accept “his normal.” A radiant conclusion affirms the daunting cost and overwhelming rewards of raising a child.

Perfectly observed and tremendously moving: This will strike a resonant chord with parents everywhere.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-544-27771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet