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THE LAST LAST FIGHT

A haunting but captivating novel featuring poignant characters.

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Lehman’s debut novel depicts a family tragedy as narrated by the oldest of four siblings.

Samantha “Sammi” Hollander was 11 years old in 1968 when her father beat her mother so viciously that she was sent to the hospital for almost a week. Afterward, he left his spouse and his four children, ranging in age from 1 to 11. Seven years later, in 1975, he’s still gone, and the rest of them live in a double-wide trailer in the small fictional town of Altera, Oregon. Eighteen-year old Sammi and her 16-year-old sister, Mary, work shifts at the Dairy Queen, helping to support the family. Their brother Randy is 10, and little Davy is 8. Sammi is the family’s de facto mother; she’s Davy’s emotional rock and the only one who can soothe his fears. At one point, narrator Sammi describes their life with their mother, Claire: “I think about the different ‘Moms’ me and the sibs had. Normal Mom, Depressed Mom, Psycho Bitch Mom, Happy Mom, Drunk Mom.” This heart-rending story about troubled people—some broken beyond repair, others surviving with stunning strength—is liberally sprinkled with colloquialisms that bring the culture, place, and time to life. The white Hollander family’s drama also plays out against the story of Altera’s racial bigotry, expressed primarily through the residents’ hateful treatment of Sammi’s best friend, Caitlin Patters, who’s black. The story is also filled with visceral images of violence: “Mom turned her palm up-ways, brought it close to me, to the skin under my chin and above my neck, that place where old folks get all flabby and loose. She grabbed that skin under my chin between her thumb and her index finger, tight….Worst pain she caused me without making me bleed.” Sammi’s recollections of years past are interspersed throughout as the story builds to a catastrophic, shocking conclusion.

A haunting but captivating novel featuring poignant characters.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 421

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

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  • New York Times Bestseller

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

GIRL ABROAD

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

A rock star’s daughter decides to study abroad in search of her own experiences, finding romance and intrigue along the way.

For 19-year-old Abbey Bly, having a rock star for a father isn’t as glamorous as it seems. For one thing, she shares her name with Abbey Road, and for another, the only version of the famous Gunner Bly she knows is the helicopter parent she lives with in Nashville. Hoping to find her way outside her father’s sphere of influence, Abbey decides to spend a semester in London studying European history at Pembridge University. Promising to keep her father updated on every aspect of life abroad, Abbey heads to her shared apartment expecting to find three female roommates…only to find that she’s actually living with three men. Afraid that Gunner will order her home, Abbey decides to keep Lee, Jack, and Jamie’s gender a secret (lucky their names sound androgynous!) and sets her sights on adventure. While working on a research project about a mysterious painting and adapting to Britain’s drinking culture, Abbey finds time to explore a little romance despite her housemates’ strict no-fraternizing rule. First there’s Jack, a commitment-phobic Australian hottie who can’t seem to stay away from Abbey; then there’s Nate, a sexy bassist who keeps forgetting he’s taken. Toying with nonexclusive relationships and exploring her sexuality, Abbey can’t help but feel excited about all the experience she’s gaining, but has she really, truly found herself? Kennedy’s novel is a page-turner—who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and meet interested potential lovers down the hall? Abbey is a relatable character who yearns to stand outside her father’s shadow, and though the love triangle is a focal point, it never outshines the heroine’s growth.

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781728299792

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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