Full of intelligence and charm.

A long-divorced pair of 70-something celebrities runs into each other at a ritzy Malibu rehab center.

Tanen's (Are You Going to Kiss Me Now?, 2011, etc.) first novel for adults follows a YA title and a hilarious series of illustrated books featuring yellow chicks. Though her delightful sense of humor infuses the plot and dialogue with sparkle, the characters and their predicaments are not played for laughs, or not only for laughs—along with the farcical situations come moments of real emotion and insight. The novel's title refers to German words that express concepts that take a whole sentence to convey in English, like Verschlimmbessern (“to make matters worse in the process of trying to improve them”) and Schnapsidee (“a plan so stupid, it must have come from a drunken mind”). These and three other such terms are the titles of the five sections of the book. In the first, two senior citizens with celebrated careers turn their lives into train wrecks. Marty Kessler is a retired Hollywood producer whose gold-digging girlfriend packs him off to Directions Rehabilitation Center for yet another stint in rehab when his opioid-and-benzo habit veers out of control. Bunny Small is a gin-swilling British author with a series of bestselling books for teens about a character named Henry Holter. When her estranged adult son, also named Henry Holter, fails to show up at the 70th birthday party thrown for her by her agent, she goes off the rails altogether. She, too, is sent to Directions. The family members who remain in the outside world have troubles of their own: Henry's girlfriend is cheating on him, and now his mother, whom he crossed the globe to escape, has shown up in Los Angeles. Marty's daughters, Janine and Amanda, have never fully recovered from their mother's long-ago suicide; Janine has the additional burden of having been a huge television star when she was a child, while Amanda's twin daughters hate each other. As the characters weather tough times and deal with hurts old and new, love and humor light the way.

Full of intelligence and charm.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-43716-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019


With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018


Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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