A dramatic, rewarding story about a woman reconnecting with family, nature, and herself.

THE BEST PART OF US

In Cole-Misch’s debut novel, an old land dispute reemerges after a young girl discovers Native artifacts.

Welsh immigrant Taid Llyndee purchased an island off the Canada coast from the Ojibwe people in the 1940s, establishing a family retreat there until 1990. In 2004, Beth Llyndee, Taid’s granddaughter, returns to this place, which she remembers well. Taid is still alive, but he’s drafted two wills—one granting the land to Beth, and the other to the Akeenes, an Ojibwe family, and Beth is to decide who gets it. The next chapter unfolds in 1987, when Beth is 11; she has a teenage brother, Dylan, and sister, Maegan. Her mother is wary of Maegan’s boyfriend; Beth’s father is the family peacemaker; and her grandparents are set in their Welsh traditions. The girl feels at home on the island, where she cares for a one-legged seagull and enjoys viewing her “favorite constellations.” The following summer, she discovers unusual wooden bowls on the island. Dylan suggests showing them to a nearby Ojibwe family, but Taid recalls the aftermath of a similar discovery: “Just because they [another family, the McGintys] found a few silly relics, the family had to give up five acres of their land to keep the community peace.” The Llyndees decide to research the items privately, but in 1990, chaos erupts as Maegan is injured, Dylan goes missing, and the family is evicted from the island. In 2004, Beth is unprepared for what lies ahead. The slow pace of this novel, which effectively offers readers a cautionary tale against secrecy, makes its twists even more rewarding. Cole-Misch manages to capture tender moments as skillfully as she does petty arguments between the siblings. Young Beth is shown to have all the characteristics that one expects of a family’s youngest child—sometimes excluded and often whining, but also the family favorite. The novel is informed by both Ojibwe and Welsh traditions and shows sensitivity regarding cultural differences. It also honors the natural world with dazzling imagery: “So many stars, as if the galaxies were holding a grand, illicit celebration after they thought the humans had gone to bed.”

A dramatic, rewarding story about a woman reconnecting with family, nature, and herself.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-741-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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