A devastating family drama driven by engrossing and believable characters.

A HAND TO HOLD IN DEEP WATER

A young mother returns home in the face of a crisis and uncovers her family’s troubled past in this debut novel.

Nocher’s book begins with 5-year-old Tasha asking her mother, Lacey Cherrymill, where her grandmother is. Lacey can only respond, “I just don’t know.” In fact, Lacey’s mother, May, abandoned her, leaving her with her stepfather, a kindhearted farmer named Willy. Although Willy raised Lacey as his own child, he still feels “gullies” between them. After a long time away, Lacey visits Willy’s Maryland farm and seems to want to escape her stressful job, but soon the first of many truths is revealed: Tasha has leukemia and a long road of treatments nearby is about to begin. Willy’s farm soon becomes the base for disjointed family members striving to support one another, including Lacey’s ex-boyfriend Mac—Tasha’s father—and his daughter from a former marriage. Even as they all grow closer and Lacey and Willy find surprising promise for new relationships, the specter of May and the question of why she left them to fend for themselves persist. Nocher alternates between the present day and May’s own journal entries dating from the 1970s, which slowly reveal the turbulent and shocking circumstances that brought Willy and Lacey together. Between the disturbing secrets hidden in May’s journal and Tasha’s heartbreaking medical ordeals—such as the child asking Lacey if they can glue her hair back on later—the author does not pull any tragic punches. But readers ready to shed more than a few tears will find a wealth of complex characters. Willy and Lacey have a relationship that feels both unlikely and entirely real, while May’s journal entries, written in the voice of a lost teenage mother, are as authentic as they are haunting.

A devastating family drama driven by engrossing and believable characters.  

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-09-409521-9

Page Count: 483

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more