A dramatically engrossing and thoughtful novel.

DOVETAILS IN TALL GRASS

Tensions between Dakota people and White settlers cascade into violent confrontation in this debut historical drama set during the Civil War.

Oenikika is only 16 years old but self-assuredly knows that she wants to become a healer—a respected role in her Dakota society. However, she frets that her father, Chief Little Crow, is ready to sacrifice everything they have in exchange for gold from the White man and a life confined to a reservation—a mortifying, diminished existence for a proudly nomadic people. To make matters worse, the White people almost immediately break their promises, leaving the Native Americans in a dangerously precarious predicament, and ready to go to war. As Oenikika bluntly puts it, “The white traders had lied and lied again….The Great White Father failed in his promises. A chief could not respect such a foe, a coward who hides behind a piece of paper.” Specks also chronicles the situation from the perspective of White settler Emma Heard, also 16, who feels stifled by her small-town existence and yearns to become a schoolteacher. Emma’s and Oenikika’s lives fatefully intertwine as the story descends into cataclysmic violence—a grim outcome that the author details with great emotional power and restraint. The two women also both have a connection to Stephen Riggs, a missionary whom Emma sees as a romantic possibility and Oenikika, as an unwanted interloper. The narrative’s split into dueling points of view makes for a simultaneously panoramic and sensitive portrayal of a terrible situation, and Specks forgoes facile judgments and formulaic conclusions in favor of complexity. The author’s story is inspired by true historical events and, in some instances, draws directly from archived documents. The end result is a startling, nuanced amalgam of past events and impressive, delicate literary creation.

A dramatically engrossing and thoughtful novel.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68-463093-6

Page Count: 328

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2021

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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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