NIGHTBITCH

A battle hymn as novel about sinking your teeth into the available options for self-determination and ripping them to shreds.

A new mother who fears she's going through a frightening and exhilarating transformation leans into the feral side of motherhood.

In this myth-steeped debut, an unnamed artist and mother, not having had a solid night's sleep since her son was born more than two years earlier, has begun waking enraged in the night. Her oblivious tech-bro husband travels for work, "rendering her a de-facto single mom" while he enjoys nightly room service, abundant quiet, and a bed to himself, and she tries to adjust to life at home with their child after having made the ambivalent decision to leave her "dream job" as director of a community gallery. In the wake of creating another human with her body (not to mention sleep deprivation and lack of child care), her impulse to create in other ways has been quashed, her mind wiped clean of ideas as she watches grad school friends, who have both children and the necessary support to advance their careers, ascend, with write-ups in the Times, biennials, residencies, and guest teaching invitations. When she confesses to her husband that she thinks she may be turning into a dog, he laughs off her concerns about the changes she's experiencing—coarse hair sprouting from the back of her neck, lengthening canines, a pilonidal cyst that suspiciously resembles a tail. She self-deprecatingly calls herself "Nightbitch," which plants the germ for a new self she incrementally invents and increasingly embodies, with considerable help from a mysterious library book called A Field Guide to Magical Women. Though at points this novel can read as if ticking boxes from a list of notes cribbed from an internet moms' group, it remains a darkly funny, often insightful dive into the competitive relationship and mutually generative potential between art and motherhood and the animalism underlying procreation and child-rearing. It is both a lament for and, at times, a satire of discontented, primarily White, heterosexual cis women who, without sufficient familial or community support, seek out often toxic and sometimes predatory online communities, where their propensities for a certain kind of American middle-class girl-boss elitism are honed toward "mom shaming" and multilevel marketing scams. Disconnected from family and without a strong sense of cultural belonging, even when Nightbitch seeks to create something truly original, like the MLM moms slinging leggings with appropriated patterns, she also colonizes, longing for and profiting from "the things [she] never had."

A battle hymn as novel about sinking your teeth into the available options for self-determination and ripping them to shreds.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-54681-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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

GIRL ABROAD

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

A rock star’s daughter decides to study abroad in search of her own experiences, finding romance and intrigue along the way.

For 19-year-old Abbey Bly, having a rock star for a father isn’t as glamorous as it seems. For one thing, she shares her name with Abbey Road, and for another, the only version of the famous Gunner Bly she knows is the helicopter parent she lives with in Nashville. Hoping to find her way outside her father’s sphere of influence, Abbey decides to spend a semester in London studying European history at Pembridge University. Promising to keep her father updated on every aspect of life abroad, Abbey heads to her shared apartment expecting to find three female roommates…only to find that she’s actually living with three men. Afraid that Gunner will order her home, Abbey decides to keep Lee, Jack, and Jamie’s gender a secret (lucky their names sound androgynous!) and sets her sights on adventure. While working on a research project about a mysterious painting and adapting to Britain’s drinking culture, Abbey finds time to explore a little romance despite her housemates’ strict no-fraternizing rule. First there’s Jack, a commitment-phobic Australian hottie who can’t seem to stay away from Abbey; then there’s Nate, a sexy bassist who keeps forgetting he’s taken. Toying with nonexclusive relationships and exploring her sexuality, Abbey can’t help but feel excited about all the experience she’s gaining, but has she really, truly found herself? Kennedy’s novel is a page-turner—who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and meet interested potential lovers down the hall? Abbey is a relatable character who yearns to stand outside her father’s shadow, and though the love triangle is a focal point, it never outshines the heroine’s growth.

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781728299792

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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