Neither groundbreaking nor especially penetrating, this warmhearted tale offers comfort to anyone coping with the loss of a...


Best-selling Cisneros (Caramelo, 2002, etc.) chronicles a search for a runaway cat that turns into a way to work through grief and discover community.

When Rosalind arrives in San Antonio after a three-day drive from Washington state, her cat, Marie, promptly takes off. “Marie had cried the whole way,” says the narrator. “I felt like crying and taking off too. My mother had died a few months before.” You can hardly call this fiction, since Cisneros tells us in the afterword that she wrote it in the wake of her mother’s death, that “the real Marie eluded capture for over a week,” and that the illustrations by San Francisco-based artist Hernández are portraits of Cisneros’ actual neighbors in San Antonio. Indeed, the tang of real life gives some needed grit to a rather anodyne account. As the narrator and Rosalind canvass the neighborhood in search of Marie, they encounter well-meaning folks who want to help but are preoccupied with their own lives. “We can do a river search on horseback,” says one neighbor. “But my kid is coming over this weekend. Can you wait till next week?” A “jogger mom” pushing a runner’s baby carriage doesn’t even wait to hear their plea, and other people are sympathetic but wrapped up in their own pain: One lost her mother and brother within a year; another has a sister battling cancer. These glimpses of selfishness and sorrow make up for some overly whimsical moments when the seekers question squirrels, dogs and cats and imagine their responses. The deliberately informal, rough-edged illustrations give a nice sense of Cisneros’ multicultural, bohemian neighborhood, and only die-hard cynics would begrudge the author her sweet but predictable culminating scene in which the narrator finds solace in a sense of unity with the natural world.

Neither groundbreaking nor especially penetrating, this warmhearted tale offers comfort to anyone coping with the loss of a loved one.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-59794-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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In 1974, a troubled Vietnam vet inherits a house from a fallen comrade and moves his family to Alaska.

After years as a prisoner of war, Ernt Allbright returned home to his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, a violent, difficult, restless man. The family moved so frequently that 13-year-old Leni went to five schools in four years. But when they move to Alaska, still very wild and sparsely populated, Ernt finds a landscape as raw as he is. As Leni soon realizes, “Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now. If you wanted to pray to a weirdo god or live in a school bus or marry a goose, no one in Alaska was going to say crap to you.” There are many great things about this book—one of them is its constant stream of memorably formulated insights about Alaska. Another key example is delivered by Large Marge, a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who now runs the general store for the community of around 30 brave souls who live in Kaneq year-round. As she cautions the Allbrights, “Alaska herself can be Sleeping Beauty one minute and a bitch with a sawed-off shotgun the next. There’s a saying: Up here you can make one mistake. The second one will kill you.” Hannah’s (The Nightingale, 2015, etc.) follow-up to her series of blockbuster bestsellers will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet–like coming-of-age story, and domestic potboiler. She re-creates in magical detail the lives of Alaska's homesteaders in both of the state's seasons (they really only have two) and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America.

A tour de force.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-312-57723-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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