An exquisite, evocative collection that delves into the beauty, mystery, and curiosities of life.

EVERYONE A BELL

POEMS

With profound insight, Merrow’s poetry explores people and places.

In this free-verse poetry, Merrow serves as an astute observer and documentarian of life. Be it a 100th birthday party, a grandmother’s Christmas visit, newlyweds moving to California, or unpacking Civil War–era china, she honors the poignant details of existence. “Graffiti Free” reminisces about an untethered period of life when the subject was free to do what she pleased. Merrow often explores the power of nature, such as the ability of an eclipse to awe people from all walks of life: “We yearn for the eclipse, / something new—a corona, / flares to rekindle hope, banana- / shaped visions, another decade.” Merrow experiments with form in “Camp Skit in Five Parts, Wherein a White Woman Plays Dead To See Where It Gets Her.” In “Craving,” she ponders what it would be like to live in another’s skin, ultimately deeming even that act of magic insufficient to understand someone else’s life. She concludes with a meditative poem that erases the division between humans and the natural world: “we are, / after all, made of the same stuff — / earth, water, sky, with nowhere to go.” Merrow makes music out of the ordinary with phrases like a “handsome nest” of hair, “the usual crawl of cars,” the “siren-flamed sunshine,” or a heron on “dripping stilts.” Something as simple as morning conversation turns undeniably sensual under Merrow’s gaze: “Mornings in bed talk is an ocean, / its swells and troughs the waters of life.” The poems are brief but powerful. There are no wasted words here, and each poem’s conclusion feels like watching an Olympic athlete execute a perfect dive. But Merrow occasionally cuts off too soon, abandoning the reader just as they immersed themselves in the scene she created. While the reader vividly sees the world through her eyes, the speaker herself remains somewhat shrouded.

An exquisite, evocative collection that delves into the beauty, mystery, and curiosities of life.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950462-71-1

Page Count: 78

Publisher: Kelsay Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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