by Susie Boyt ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 19, 2023
Readers who are averse to crying in public be warned: You’ll want to sit with this astounding story at home.
A single mother navigates custody of her granddaughter—and tries to correct mistakes she made the first time around—in this gentle but heart-wrenching story.
When London schoolteacher Ruth learns that her daughter, Eleanor, is pregnant, the two are sharing a meager Christmas dinner on a park bench. Eleanor is years into debilitating addiction, living on and off the streets with her baby's father, Ben, but Ruth pushes past Eleanor's resistance to offer help when Lily is born—holding vigil as the newborn goes through withdrawal in the hospital, taking control of the baptism as Eleanor and Ben keep wandering off, regularly stopping by their apartment to make sure they’re eating. When Ruth finds an unresponsive person in Eleanor’s apartment—ostensibly an overdose—she flees with Lily, anticipating a fight for custody that never comes. The years pass swiftly, almost perfunctorily, as Lily grows into a kind, strong-willed, and precocious child, “someone who knows life is a serious business, perhaps a few years before she might,” as Ruth's friend describes her. The pacing matches Ruth’s own matter-of-factness: Her outsize shame leaves little berth for wallowing, and her self-deprecating wit resists maudlin sentimentality. (The greatest source of comic relief comes from Jean Reynolds, Ruth’s co-worker, whose brashness and loyalty make her impossible not to love.) Through intimate first-person narration, Ruth balances the pain of losing a daughter against the hope of a second chance. Her relationship with Lily brings a cautious joy. Ruth can’t look at the girl without seeing the trail of maternal pain that originated with her own mother, who drank disinfectant after Ruth’s father left, and led to Lily’s miraculous birth. Love can go awry—see the double meaning of the title, which Lily discovers on a tombstone: “It kind of sounds like the person tried to be loving but…the aim was wrong”—but can that misdirection be righted? Though Lily isn’t immune from trauma—this is clear when her perspective abruptly takes over in the final third of the book—she is propped up by the strength of Ruth’s devotion.Readers who are averse to crying in public be warned: You’ll want to sit with this astounding story at home.
Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023
Page Count: 224
Publisher: New York Review Books
Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023
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by Susan Mallery ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 31, 2022
A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.
Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.
Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.
Pub Date: May 31, 2022
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022
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by Barbara Kingsolver ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 18, 2022
An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2022
New York Times Bestseller
Pulitzer Prize Winner
Inspired by David Copperfield, Kingsolver crafts a 21st-century coming-of-age story set in America’s hard-pressed rural South.
It’s not necessary to have read Dickens’ famous novel to appreciate Kingsolver’s absorbing tale, but those who have will savor the tough-minded changes she rings on his Victorian sentimentality while affirming his stinging critique of a heartless society. Our soon-to-be orphaned narrator’s mother is a substance-abusing teenage single mom who checks out via OD on his 11th birthday, and Demon’s cynical, wised-up voice is light-years removed from David Copperfield’s earnest tone. Yet readers also see the yearning for love and wells of compassion hidden beneath his self-protective exterior. Like pretty much everyone else in Lee County, Virginia, hollowed out economically by the coal and tobacco industries, he sees himself as someone with no prospects and little worth. One of Kingsolver’s major themes, hit a little too insistently, is the contempt felt by participants in the modern capitalist economy for those rooted in older ways of life. More nuanced and emotionally engaging is Demon’s fierce attachment to his home ground, a place where he is known and supported, tested to the breaking point as the opiate epidemic engulfs it. Kingsolver’s ferocious indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, angrily stated by a local girl who has become a nurse, is in the best Dickensian tradition, and Demon gives a harrowing account of his descent into addiction with his beloved Dori (as naïve as Dickens’ Dora in her own screwed-up way). Does knowledge offer a way out of this sinkhole? A committed teacher tries to enlighten Demon’s seventh grade class about how the resource-rich countryside was pillaged and abandoned, but Kingsolver doesn’t air-brush his students’ dismissal of this history or the prejudice encountered by this African American outsider and his White wife. She is an art teacher who guides Demon toward self-expression, just as his friend Tommy provokes his dawning understanding of how their world has been shaped by outside forces and what he might be able to do about it.An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.
Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022
Page Count: 560
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022
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