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

THE YIELD

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/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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

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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

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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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

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