A beautifully written and psychologically intelligent thriller.

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IMAGINING MOLLY

In this novel, a mother desperately tries to find her abducted child—while receiving telepathic messages.

Claire Shore’s 6-year-old daughter, Molly, has been tormented by the same nightmare for weeks, accompanied by stomachaches, apparently the result of stress. Claire worries that this is something more than a fleeting bout of youthful anxiety, and her own mother recommends she seek the help of a professional therapist. Claire takes Molly shopping for a new outfit to wear to a friend’s birthday party and then suddenly realizes Molly’s vanished and is overcome by a wave of panic. Unable to find her, she calls her husband, Artie, and the police, and a frantic search begins. Claire remembers that an unfamiliar woman brashly intruded into her conversation with Molly, and she turns out to be a prostitute from Texas and the prime suspect. Meanwhile, Molly is whisked away by her captors, renamed Daisy, brutally beaten and mistreated, the victim of an organized kidnapping racket. Claire believes her daughter is sending her telepathic messages, and she reveals that her own sister, Faye, also experienced nightmares as a child that were better understood as visions. As the days and then weeks and months go by, the prospects for rescuing Molly seem increasingly bleak, and only a psychic who claims to have dreams about the child still believes she remains alive. The book shifts back and forth between two parallel stories—the desperate search for Molly spearheaded by her parents and the girl’s own fearful trials. Gale (Goddess Gilda, 2013) artfully conjures taut suspense, keeping the plot moving at a brisk pace without projecting the ultimate outcome of the tale. Some of the details of Molly’s ordeal are unsettlingly grim, but the author doesn’t pummel her readers with macabre violence, though some sections are, nonetheless, challenging to bear. Claire’s marriage begins to suffer early on, and her guilt over Molly’s disappearance is pulverizing, a subplot developed with impressive sensitivity by Gale. In prose that sometimes approaches poetic elegance, she captures the deep connection between Molly and her mother and Claire’s refusal, despite spiritual depletion, to relax the vigil for her missing child: “I climbed into bed suddenly exhausted. I crept back into the bathroom and soaked a washcloth under cold water. I rung [sic] it out, folded it in thirds, crawled back in bed and pressed the cold cloth to my forehead. I listened for my daughter.” Gale also skillfully delves into the mind of one of Molly’s captors, a morally misguided woman but not an evil one, looking, however perversely, for a family of her own. The heart of the story, though, is Molly, who memorably perseveres despite her understandable terror and the degradation she weathers. The author uses the child’s telepathy as a sign of her emotional acuteness and the basis of her deep attunement with her mother. Gale has a talent for depicting compassion that survives even the darkest trauma, and Molly’s own resilience is the finest example of that knack. 

A beautifully written and psychologically intelligent thriller. 

Pub Date: May 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5449-8284-7

Page Count: 356

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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