An uncanny, appealing blend of suspense, irony, tragedy, and how-to for lock-picking, burgling, and ankle monitor removal.

OTHER PEOPLE'S PETS

When helping dad means quitting school and committing felonies.

“La La has crime in her blood as surely as the Flying Wallendas have acrobatics, and the Kennedys, politics. Maybe it’s pointless to resist it. Especially now that Zev needs her.” The protagonist of Maizes’ first novel—after We Love Anderson Cooper (2019), a collection of short stories—is the daughter of an ill-starred family. Her mother, Elissa, who never wanted children and preferred animals to people, disappeared without a trace after a nearly fatal parenting error went large in the media. Her father, Zev, left on his own with 8-year-old La La, withdrew her from school and made her his partner in a combination locksmith/burglary operation. Like her mother, La La is passionate about animals, but with her, it goes a step farther. She is an animal empath who can actually read animals’ minds and feel their aches and pains. Both parents’ legacies play a positive role in early adulthood—La La’s a star in veterinary school, and she meets her fiance, Clem, when she helps him break into his locked chiropractic office. But when Zev leaves his phone at the scene of a bungled job, the darker side of the family history takes hold: “It’s Sunday, a good day to rob churchgoing families.” Rationalizing her crimes by tending to the pets she finds locked inside the homes she breaks into, La La sacrifices almost everything in the attempt to raise legal fees for her father—and what’s left gets tossed into the flames of the torch she carries for her missing mother. While its quirky combination of fictional elements and adroit, deadpan writing give the novel a wryly comedic atmosphere, La La’s story is melancholy and moving.

An uncanny, appealing blend of suspense, irony, tragedy, and how-to for lock-picking, burgling, and ankle monitor removal.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30413-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

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

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