A compelling and poignant journey of self-discovery that spans continents and generations.

MADRID AGAIN

A Spanish American professor uncovers her rich family history in Maura’s novel.

In the 1960s, Odilia falls for a man named Zimmerman after she attends one of his lectures in Madrid. She finds out that they were both raised in Spain, but the rest of Zimmerman’s background remains mysterious. Rumors suggest that he works for the CIA, partly because he spends considerable time in the United States. After a whirlwind courtship, he convinces Odilia to move with him to upstate New York, where she serves as his teaching assistant at a small college. They marry, and Odilia gives birth to Lola—the narrator, who later becomes a professor herself; she relates the story of her parents over the course of the novel. Soon after Lola’s birth, Zimmerman disappears. Lola and her mother live in small-town Vermont and then in Massachusetts, frequently visiting Odilia’s family in Spain. Lola struggles without a father figure: “I secretly hoped he was dead, because that was the only excuse that would justify the fact that he was not with us.” As an adult, she pieces together her family history—learning, for example, that her father was in fact a prominent anti-fascist and a member of the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom. The depiction of Odilia’s background feels rushed, with quite a bit of summary, but the novel shines when Lola narrates her own life. Maura vividly captures Lola’s multifaceted childhood, as in this description of her grandmother’s kitchen, where the cook pummels veal cutlets with “the menacing blows of her large gray stone, shaped like a rather flat Idaho potato.” By comparison, New England, where the adults “seem sad” and “have cottage cheese for lunch,” feels bleak, indeed. There’s a well-crafted moment when Lola is on a flight to Spain, during which she clutches motion sickness bags, chews Dramamine pills, and resents the smell of “American brewed coffee…that wafted out of the airborne kitchenette.” It’s a stunning sequence that effectively dramatizes her conflicted feelings about the two countries she calls home.

A compelling and poignant journey of self-discovery that spans continents and generations.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-951627-12-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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