Stirring and moving: more fine work from a versatile, gifted writer.

FROM THESE BROKEN STREETS

A vigorous fictional account of the popular uprising that threw the Nazis out of Naples in 1943.

Mussolini has been deposed, Italy has signed an armistice, but the Germans still occupy Naples. Arrogant Nazi Col. Scholl anticipates no problem in carrying out his orders to “reduce the city to ashes and mud” in order to slow the imminent Allied invasion. He reckons without the people of Naples, whose rule-breaking, life-embracing spirit Merullo captures in a vivid narrative centered on five principal characters (in addition to the odious colonel). Street kid Armando sabotages Nazi trucks with his fellow homeless urchins. National Archives curator Giuseppe draws a detailed map of the city that will aid the Allies. His lover, Lucia, dresses as a nun to smuggle the map to Rita, a devoutly religious practitioner of the world’s oldest profession who can get it to the monastery sheltering an Allied intelligence officer. Meanwhile, Lucia’s father, Aldo, reluctant subordinate of the local Camorra, helps the mobsters steal Nazi weapons and equipment. The Camorristi have financial reasons for wanting Naples free of Germans, but Merullo’s nuanced portrait acknowledges that sometimes criminals do good, that there are a few decent Nazis among the vicious majority, and that Neapolitans’ generosity, bravery, and resourcefulness spring from an oppressive social system that mires many in dire poverty. The gripping climactic account of the widespread revolt that forces the arrogant Nazis to abandon the city may surprise readers who know Merullo as the author of unconventional spiritual fiction (Breakfast With the Buddha, 2007) or probing novels of American working-class life (In Revere, in Those Days, 2002), but this multifaceted writer always surprises and entertains. He finds time among the mayhem for a few poignant human dramas, brought to satisfactory conclusions along with the uprising.

Stirring and moving: more fine work from a versatile, gifted writer.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1896-8

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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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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