A sometimes-insightful, if slightly uneven, collection that catalogs a journey from devastation to renewal.

FROM SUFFERING TO SALVE

MY JOURNEY TO HAPPINESS

A personal book of poems about overcoming adversity and rediscovering oneself.

This collection focuses on themes of metamorphosis. The first section, “Suffering,” opens with “Weathering the Storm Another Day,” a poem about a contentious relationship in which the speaker refuses to participate anymore. “Cut the Power” describes an effort to leave the past behind and begin again with a clean slate. The speaker of “Gray Is a Warning To Heed” metaphorically evicts a toxic person from their being, and another wrestles with isolation in “Loneliness Called, She Wants You Back.” Zan employs a baseball metaphor to describe a failure at love and a willingness to try again in “Divorce, America’s Favorite Pastime.” A classmate who killed herself is the subject of “Sharing Aloneness With Willa.” The “Scars” section kicks off with “I Became From Where I Am,” a poem about identity and family. In the “Salve” section, the speakers experience a sort of rebirth, reuniting with friends, experimenting with makeup, basking in nature, and opening up to love again. The poet ends the collection on an uplifting note—joyful, determined, and “braving a future unknown.” Zan chooses her words carefully, using vibrant verbs and sensual adjectives, as when she describes how a speaker’s “skin singes,” the “bourbon-orange glow of the sun,” the “velvety / warmth” of coffee, or an embrace “enclosing me like a / weighted blanket.” She also shows a brave vulnerability; the speaker of “10 Truths: If I’m Being Honest,” for example, unleashes a slew of unflattering confessions, including a desire to be anorexic, a contemplation of suicide, and a wish that a husband was dead. Another work, “There Lived a Girl on Birch Lane,” takes on the perspective of a teen who gave up a child for adoption as it explores a theme of abandonment. But the book occasionally veers into melodramatic territory in self-pitying stanzas such as “No one sees / how do I start? / to describe the pain / of my folded heart.” There are a few clichéd similes, as well, including “I savored you like a filet mignon.”

A sometimes-insightful, if slightly uneven, collection that catalogs a journey from devastation to renewal.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-94-753604-3

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Turtle Cove Press

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 33

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 61

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more