THE YIELD

A story woven from profound, overlooked historical material that’s sadly marred by sloppy execution.

An Aboriginal woman uncovers her heritage, and her painful past, to save her family’s home.

August Gondiwindi, a dishwasher in London, receives word that her grandfather Poppy Albert has died and knows she must return to Massacre Plains, the small Australian town her family has lived in for generations—a place she hasn’t visited in years: “Go back full with shame for having left, catch the disappointment in their turned mouths, go back and try to find all the things that she couldn’t find so many thousands of kilometres away.” She arrives at the family farm, Prosperous House, and as she helps her grandmother Elsie prepare food and clean for the large collection of aunts and uncles gathering for the funeral, she runs into former classmates and old flames and wrestles with her long-dormant grief at the disappearance of her sister, Jedda, who vanished when August was 9 and Jedda, 10. She also discovers that this may be the last time she sees her childhood home—her grandmother will soon be forced out of Prosperous House because a company plans to open a large tin mine on the land. Interwoven with August’s story are two other narrative strands: a lengthy letter from the Rev. Ferdinand Greenleaf, who founded the mission that eventually became Prosperous House to “build a home of safety for the poor waifs and strays,” and sections from a dictionary Poppy Albert was compiling of their family’s native language before his death, which includes words from the author’s ancestral Wiradjuri language. Albert’s entries are easily the most charming parts of the book. “The dictionary is not just words—there are little stories in those pages too,” he writes, and the same is true for his own effort, which weaves in reminiscences of meeting Elsie, fond memories of raising Jedda and August, and stories from his ancestors. But August’s chapters suffer from a lack of clarity; it’s often difficult to understand why events are significant, especially in the novel’s more dramatic latter half. Too often, it’s simply that the sentences are bewildering: “When the previous evening, like a virus, the true rumour that Rinepalm Mining had set an open day at the town hall filtered into the Valley, and back streets, the men and women, though on the edge of heatstroke, leapt from their houses and headed into town.”

A story woven from profound, overlooked historical material that’s sadly marred by sloppy execution.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-300346-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperVia

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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