A bleak but psychologically insightful portrait of family dynamics.

These people are related—but can they relate?

Berne, who won the Orange Prize for A Crime in the Neighborhood, her 1997 debut, and more recently charmed readers with the social satire The Dogs of Littlefield (2016), chooses a tight focus for her latest: the tense dynamics of three troubled individuals as they play out over a few days in rural Vermont. Marika is a Dutch survivor of the Nazi occupation; she lives alone in a run-down cottage by a lake, where the action occurs. Marika has been only barely in touch with her daughter, Lorna, whom she abandoned along with her husband and son when the children were young, resurfacing more than 30 years later, after the birth of Lorna's son. Lorna is a therapist whose husband has recently left her for another woman and moved to the West Coast; she is dealing with the return from college of her 19-year-old, Adam, after a traumatic experience he will not share—nor has she ever told him about her mother's abandonment. Following his mysterious humiliation, Adam has embarked on what he thinks of as a "scourge" that involves, among other things, rejecting the first-person pronoun and proper names. He is A, his parents are X and Y, and this makes the first chapter, written from his perspective, a tough read. "A did away with I. I=Death." When Lorna learns that Marika has sprained her ankle and needs family assistance, she asks Adam to accompany her on the road trip. He agrees only as part of his self-abnegation project but then finds he has a more positive response to his gruff, unappealing grandmother than to what he sees as his pathetic, approval-seeking mom. Lorna, though miserable, is smart enough to see what's going on. "People who suffered a trauma often felt that if it went unmentioned it was containable, which led to intimacy issues." So Marika's not talking about her very dark war experience, Lorna's not talking about her childhood, and Adam sure as hell isn't telling what happened at college. Until they all do.

A bleak but psychologically insightful portrait of family dynamics.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-476-79426-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Marysue Rucci Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022


A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.

Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780062406651

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


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

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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