An engrossing, if somewhat emotionally superficial, tale of early tribal life in North America through the eyes of an...



In this “fish out of water” YA novel, a Maine teenager finds himself thrust back in time to an ancient encampment of the Native American tribe that, centuries ago, inhabited his backyard.

Matthew is a typical high school junior with a girlfriend, a summer job as a grocery store stock boy, and a love of the outdoors. One summer evening, as he is waiting for his mother to get home to cook dinner, he collapses after being bitten by an unusual-looking black fly. When he awakes, he is surprised to find himself in a rustic structure surrounded by people speaking a strange language. Although he recognizes a few familiar landmarks, everything else seems to have changed. Instead of his house and backyard, the area is filled with Native American dwellings and the daily activities of tribal life before any contact with white settlers. The residents of the tiny village accept Matt into their circle even though they can only communicate with gestures. Viewing his situation with some curiosity, Matt names his new friends, some (like Aunt Martha and George) for people they remind him of and others (Mosquito, Contentment, and Sourpuss) for observed characteristics. As he follows them through their routines of food gathering and preparation, tool making, pottery, and basket weaving, Matt gains appreciation for the tribal members’ kindness, skills, and highly efficient management and use of natural resources. Will (Last Entry, 2016) is an anthropologist, and his examination of prehistoric Native American life is intriguing and absorbing. His writing demonstrates skillful descriptive powers, whether painting the beauty of the Maine countryside, detailing the deeds of the tribe, or “reminiscing” about small-town life in 21st-century New England. What is missing in this YA tale is an effective exploration of Matt’s emotional reaction to his dislocation in time. Where one might expect panic, anger, and loneliness, Matt reacts to his situation with bland equanimity, at most remarking: “I’ve always been interested in Native American culture, but this can’t be happening. I don’t want it to be happening.” If this leaves the narrative feeling less like a convincing story of teen time travel than an anthropologist’s account, it is at least a compelling one.

An engrossing, if somewhat emotionally superficial, tale of early tribal life in North America through the eyes of an outsider.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2015


Page Count: 248

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2017

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


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 strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed...

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Trying his final case at 85, celebrated criminal defense lawyer Sandy Stern defends a Nobel-winning doctor and longtime friend whose cancer wonder drug saved Stern's life but subsequently led to the deaths of others.

Federal prosecutors are charging the eminent doctor, Kiril Pafko, with murder, fraud, and insider trading. An Argentine émigré like Stern, Pafko is no angel. His counselor is certain he sold stock in the company that produced the drug, g-Livia, before users' deaths were reported. The 78-year-old Nobelist is a serial adulterer whose former and current lovers have strong ties to the case. Working for one final time alongside his daughter and proficient legal partner, Marta, who has announced she will close the firm and retire along with her father following the case, Stern must deal not only with "senior moments" before Chief Judge Sonya "Sonny" Klonsky, but also his physical frailty. While taking a deep dive into the ups and downs of a complicated big-time trial, Turow (Testimony, 2017, etc.) crafts a love letter to his profession through his elegiac appreciation of Stern, who has appeared in all his Kindle County novels. The grandly mannered attorney (his favorite response is "Just so") has dedicated himself to the law at great personal cost. But had he not spent so much of his life inside courtrooms, "He never would have known himself." With its bland prosecutors, frequent focus on technical details like "double-blind clinical trials," and lack of real surprises, the novel likely will disappoint some fans of legal thrillers. But this smoothly efficient book gains timely depth through its discussion of thorny moral issues raised by a drug that can extend a cancer sufferer's life expectancy at the risk of suddenly ending it.

A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed Innocent.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4813-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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