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PROMISE

A stunning and evocative portrait of love, pride, and survival.

Jim Crow was at home not only in the South.

This is a gorgeous and heart-stopping account of the casual and calculated racism endured by a Black family in 1950s Maine as well as the love and strength that sustain them. Hyacinth “Cinthy” Kindred, the bookish and observant 13-year-old narrator, begins her story with a description of the idyllic last days of summer 1957, before school begins in her seaside hometown of Salt Point. Matter-of-fact references to the isolation in which her family lives take on increased resonance as Cinthy relates the events of several months in the life of her family, which has endured decades of generational harm that still echoes at the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. Cinthy and her older sister, Ezra, negotiate the early days of their adolescence and their growing awareness of the ways in which their lives will differ from those of their White schoolmates, particularly the impoverished and preternaturally ambitious Ruby. Griffiths’ origin stories for several characters serve to reveal the horrors the Kindreds face. Lynchings, burnings, drownings, beatings, legal threats, and vicious schoolroom taunts create the backdrop for the deliberate steps taken by Cinthy’s parents—and by their only local Black friends, the Junketts—to instill the pride and strength that will be required for their children to follow “the Path” they are on to self-determination, equality, and respect. Griffiths’ considerable talent as a poet creates space for descriptions of otherwise unspeakable horrors. (One character’s suicide is described as his having “swallowed the mercy of his own gun.”)

A stunning and evocative portrait of love, pride, and survival.

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9780593241929

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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THE WOMEN

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

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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

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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