An often intriguing and emotional look at lives on and off the road.


Roadies take a break from touring to rethink their lives in Black’s novel.

The people who work for rock star Sadie Estrada are like family, for good or ill. Among them are Alex, the tour electrician, and Lily, Sadie’s long-suffering personal assistant. Alex loves her job, but when she discovers that she’s pregnant, she quits to settle down with her boyfriend, Connor. He feels panicky about the baby, as he already has a grown daughter whose life he’s not much involved with. Then Alex miscarries, and she decides to return to tour life—although some of the joy is gone now that she no longer has seniority. During a concert in Italy, part of the rig falls and injures Sadie, and the crew blames Alex even though she knows she had nothing to do with it. The four women roadies on the tour—Alex, Lily, and two other stagehands—decide to rent a house in Tuscany for a vacation while the tour is stalled, and they bond on their trip. Lily is fed up with the abuse she gets from Sadie; Alex talks about her miscarriage and how painful it was. The pair think about staying in Italy, but their lives manage to catch up with them. Seeing the world of rock performance through the eyes of the roadies takes some of the glam away—they work hard, stay in bad hotels, and travel so much they can’t keep track of where they are, as noted in the title. This aspect of the novel is compelling, as most novels about rock bands follow around the musicians and not the behind-the-scenes crew. But although the plot moves quickly, it feels more like a mere series of events than an arc, and the ending leaves a few things unresolved. Still, Black does a nice job of describing the Tuscany setting, as when the vacationing women reach their destination in a remote village: “The rental house sat two hundred feet beyond a tall stone wall and looked like a place where even the most tightly wound show tech could rest.”

An often intriguing and emotional look at lives on and off the road.

Pub Date: May 31, 2021


Page Count: 236

Publisher: TouchPoint Press

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

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If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

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From the greenroom of the afterlife—make that Benjamin Moore "Parsley Snips" green—a newly dead Nantucket novelist watches life unfold without her.

In her 27th novel, Hilderbrand gives herself an alter ego—beloved beach-novel author Vivian Howe—sends her out for a morning jog, and immediately kills her off. A hit-and-run driver leaves Vivi dead by the side of the road, where her son's best friend discovers her body—or was he responsible for the accident? Vivi doesn't know, nor does she know yet that her daughter Willa is pregnant, or that her daughter Carson is having a terribly ill-advised affair, or that her son, Leo, has a gnawing secret, or that her ex is getting tired of the girl he dumped her for. She will discover all this and more as she watches one last summer on Nantucket play out under the tutelage of Martha, her "Person," who receives her in the boho-chic waiting room of the Beyond. Hermès-scarved Martha explains that Vivi will have three nudges—three chances to change the course of events on Earth and prevent her bereaved loved ones from making life-altering mistakes. She will also get to watch the publication of what will be her last novel, titled Golden Girl, natch, and learn the answers to two questions: Will the secret about her own life she buried in this novel come to light (who cares, really—she's dead now), and will it hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list (now there's an interesting question). She'll also get to see that one of her biggest wrongs is posthumously righted and that her kids have learned her most important lesson. As Willa says to Carson, "You know how she treats the characters in her books? She gives them flaws, she portrays them doing horrible things—but the reader loves them anyway. Because Mom loves them. Because they’re human.”

If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31642008-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Unlike baseball, basketball has contributed little to world literature. Call this Exhibit A.


Legal eagle and mystery maven Grisham shifts gears with a novel about roundball.

What possessed Grisham to stop writing about murder in the Spanish moss–dripping milieus of the Deep South is anyone’s guess, and why he elected to write about basketball, one might imagine, speaks to some deep passion for the game. The depth of that love doesn’t quite emerge in these pages, flat of affect, told almost as if a by-the-numbers biography of an actual player. As it is, Grisham invents an all-too-believable hero in Samuel Sooleymon, who plays his way out of South Sudan, a nation wrought by sectarian violence—Sooley is a Dinka, Grisham instructs, of “the largest ethnic class in the country,” pitted against other ethnic groups—and mired in poverty despite the relative opulence of the capital city of Juba, with its “tall buildings, vibrancy, and well-dressed people.” A hard-charging but heart-of-gold coach changes his life when he arrives at the university there, having been dismissed earlier as a “nonshooting guard.” Soon enough Sooley is sinking three-pointers with alarming precision, which lands him a spot on an American college team. Much of the later portion of Grisham’s novel bounces between Sooley’s on-court exploits, jaw-dropping as they are, and his efforts to bring his embattled family, now refugees from civil war, to join him in the U.S.; explains Grisham, again, “Beatrice and her children were Dinka, the largest tribe in South Sudan, and their strongman was supposedly in control of most of the country,” though evidently not the part where they lived. Alas, Sooley, beloved of all, bound for a glorious career in the NBA, falls into the bad company that sudden wealth and fame can bring, and it all comes crashing down in a morality play that has only the virtue of bringing this tired narrative to an end.

Unlike baseball, basketball has contributed little to world literature. Call this Exhibit A.

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-54768-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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