A beautifully written exploration of identity, memory, power, and agency.

MOTHER DAUGHTER WIDOW WIFE

A missing woman’s past upends the lives of the women around her.

In Wasserman’s new novel, the author of Girls on Fire (2016) explores the lives of three women after one of them goes missing. Despite everyone telling her to move on, college student Alice is searching for her mother, who's disappeared. When she discovers her mother has gone missing before, she sets out to find her and the truth—which brings her to the door of Elizabeth Strauss. While working as a fellow at the Meadowlark Institute for Memory Research, Strauss, who at that time was going by the nickname Lizzie, was invited to join a once-in-a-lifetime project by “psychology’s latest golden god,” Dr. Benjamin Strauss (then her boss, now her recently deceased husband). The project? Studying Alice’s mother, aka Wendy Doe, a woman found on a bus without identification or memories, who's in a dissociative fugue state. Wendy’s perspective is also offered through lyrical diary entries in which she explores who she is, who she’s not, and what’s happening to her in the moment (which is all she has). Told in alternating perspectives by Alice, Elizabeth, and Lizzie, the novel is like a knot being slowly unraveled. While a bit disorienting at first, Wasserman’s choice to differentiate between Lizzie’s point of view (the past) and Elizabeth’s (the present) succeeds narratively and thematically. By offering one woman’s insights at different points in time, the novel explores the ways time, memory, and hindsight inform who we are and who we become. After completing an exercise where she lists every memory she’s had in the last two weeks, Lizzie realizes: “Almost everything that happens is forgotten. Decades swallowed. Maybe...the mystery isn’t why we forget some things and not others. Maybe the mystery is why we ever remember.” In addition to meditating on personhood and recollection, Wasserman deftly explores power dynamics, ambition, and the lingering scars of trauma.

A beautifully written exploration of identity, memory, power, and agency.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3949-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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