A deft examination of sexuality, history, and father-son relationships.

OTHER NAMES FOR LOVE

A Pakistani boy is riven by duty and legacy and by his own desires.

At 16, Fahad is a bookish, sensitive boy who can't seem to evade the critical eye of his tyrannical father, Rafik, in their home in Karachi. His hopes to spend the summer holidays in London with his doting mother are dashed when Rafik demands that the boy join him at the family’s rural estate in Abad. Just as he's attempting to cultivate the lush jungle into farmland, Rafik intends to subdue his son’s softer tendencies, to make “a man” of him, so that eventually the boy may grow up to assume power over the family estate himself. To accomplish this, Rafik introduces Fahad to local boy Ali, who appears, at first, to be his foil: tough, brooding, and dutiful. However, as the summer advances and the boys grow closer, Fahad finds himself attracted to Ali, a seductive spell that overflows into an admiration for the overgrown jungle that his father is attempting to tame at all costs. As the relationship between the two boys blossoms, Rafik’s abuses of power take new extremes as he enlists his workers in building a dam whose construction is not only costly and ambitious, but places all of their lives at risk. A couple of decades later, Fahad has managed to effectively escape his father’s grip. A successful writer, he has made a comfortable life for himself in London with his partner. However, a phone call from his mother threatens the stability and ease he has finally achieved: His parents are on the verge of losing their home in Karachi, and his presence is required to manage the estate in Abad. Back in Abad, Fahad observes his once-despotic father’s descent into dementia as his own mind is deluged with memories of his romance with Ali. In third-person chapters that alternate between Rafik’s and Fahad’s points of view, the novel deftly captures the way the past—both memories and inheritances—informs the present and the future. Despite its concern for the past though, the narrative never feels stalled, moving forward with urgent and emotionally resonant prose.

A deft examination of sexuality, history, and father-son relationships.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-3746-0464-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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