A coming-of-age story set in a remarkable hidden world.

THE BOY AT BOOTH MEMORIAL

A teenage boy grows up on the grounds of a hospital for unwed pregnant teens in DeTournay’s debut novel.

Fourteen-year-old Rene Dardenne has never been to a city as large as St. Paul, where his mother has moved him to take a job as a nurse at the Booth Memorial Home and Hospital, a Salvation Army–run institution that serves young, unwed mothers. “Our two busiest times of the year are the result of New Year’s Eve and Prom Night,” explains a Salvation Army officer on their arrival. “The New Years’ are delivering now, and we expect Prom Nights to arrive three or four months after conception, which is also about now.” Rene and his mother will be residing on premises. As one of only two men living on the property—the other is an elderly caretaker named Max—Rene gets a crash course in all things female, from garter belts in the bathroom to the sounds of giving birth. Rene, a Roman Catholic obsessed with the parameters of sin, is highly embarrassed by his new living circumstances and does whatever he can to keep them secret from the kids at his new school. Even so, he can’t help but get involved in the complex, dramatic lives of the 50 girls who live at the home, each of whom has a colorful backstory and is undergoing one of the most emotional experiences of her life. Their struggles with stillbirths, adoption, shame, and isolation force Rene to rethink his definition of sin—and to grow up faster than he might have otherwise. DeTournay writes with humor and compassion, adeptly depicting the characters and their late-1940s Midwestern milieu: “I was embarrassed how quickly she saw through me, but at least, I got my unasked question answered. She jumped at the sound of gunshots and the wail of a World War II air raid siren. It was midnight, and the noise announced the arrival of 1950 in St. Paul, Minnesota.” The environment of the hospital is compelling and often heartbreaking, so much so that the reader will be instantly invested and committed for the remainder.

A coming-of-age story set in a remarkable hidden world.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68201-095-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: North Star Press of St. Cloud

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2019

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A heartfelt novel that celebrates its implausibility with a unique joie de vivre.

OONA OUT OF ORDER

What would you say to your younger self if you could give her advice?

“Wise beyond their years” is an expression we’ve all heard before. But for one Brooklyn teen, that saying becomes all too real when an unexplained event causes her to begin living her adult life in random order. On New Year’s Eve 1982, Oona Lockhart is about to turn 19. Change is on the horizon, as she must decide whether to leave school to tour with her band, Early Dawning, or quit the band to continue her studies in London. Does she follow her loving boyfriend and band mate, Dale, or does she make a stable, independent decision for herself? Almost as if standing on a precipice between past and future, Oona finds it important to tell herself: “Remember this party. Every second of it. Every person here.” When the clock strikes midnight, she opens her eyes to a reality far different from the one she'd been experiencing—and decades later. The abrupt shift sets the pace for the rest of the book—it turns out that even when you’re living life out of order, time passes just as quickly. Right as you settle in with one version of Oona, whether it be free-spirited, club-going Oona or middle-aged investor Oona, it’s almost New Year’s again. The effect is something like narrative jet lag, making it impossible to feel grounded in time. Which is, no doubt, the point. Montimore (Asleep From Day, 2018) is not afraid to wrench Oona from one season of life to another, satisfied with ending a year in a fashion as incomplete as this: “She didn’t get a chance to finish her sentence.” These vignettes, removed from linear neatness, celebrate the unpredictability and imperfect nature of life. Even when Oona has the opportunity to leave notes for the next version of herself, it doesn’t always mean she’ll follow her advice. With each temporal shift, Oona is left longing for what came before, but supporting characters like Oona’s mom, Madeleine, and confidante, Kenzie, serve as talismans that guide her back to the present. In the end, we must give credit to Oona for finding joy and even humor in her situation and to Montimore for developing a complex narrative held together by simple truths. Read this to get a bit lost, to root for a character with a strong love for herself, and to connect on a deeply human level with the fear of leading an incomplete life.

A heartfelt novel that celebrates its implausibility with a unique joie de vivre.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23660-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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