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CULT CLASSIC

Thoughtfully and humanely acerbic.

An author best known for her essay collections—Look Alive Out There (2018) and I Was Told There’d Be Cake (2008)—explores the inner workings of modern love in her second novel.

Lola’s whole life revolves around the magazine where she has worked for years. Her co-worker Vadis has become her best friend simply by being someone she sees every day and the person who knows more about her than anyone else. Lola’s identified each and every shortcoming in their boss, Clive—she describes him as a man “animated by logic and brown liquor”—but she’s still just a little bit in thrall to him. Even after Modern Psychology folds, she meets up with Clive and Vadis and another colleague for the occasional dinner. They’re finishing a meal in Chinatown when she steps out for a cigarette and runs into her ex, a writer named Amos. They have a charged conversation, one that makes Lola ask herself uncomfortable questions about her engagement to an artist she calls Boots. The next night, after an old acquaintance drags her to the same Chinese restaurant, Lola encounters Willis, an Olympic athlete and another former lover....She soon learns that these encounters are not coincidences and there are more such encounters to follow. Crosley is nothing if not ambitious here, interrogating contemporary wellness culture and the very nature of love as Lola confronts a gauntlet of ghosts from her romantic past and questions her desire for a future with Boots. Clive, who parlayed his role as editor of Modern Psychology into a brief career as a talk show host, emerges as a self-styled guru using the free labor of his unquestioning acolytes to create a product that gives clients perfect emotional closure. Crosley has created the ideal protagonist/narrator for navigating this low-key–SF but very real world. Lola is skeptical and prickly while also being vulnerable—a wiseass with a heart. The story is plenty engaging, but it’s Crosley’s analytical acumen and gift for the striking metaphor that really gives the book life.

Thoughtfully and humanely acerbic.

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-3746-0339-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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