A compassionate, balanced, and engaging look at generational conflict—and resolution—during social upheaval.

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Three Ukrainian women—a mother, daughter, and granddaughter—forge connections and evolve while the Soviet Union collapses around them.

Bitter cold permeates many of the scenes in this aptly titled novel. From harsh Soviet Ukrainian winters to icy weather abroad, the climate is an often hostile force that reflects the political and emotional drama that unfolds. The work offers a multigenerational family story. The father, Lyaksandro Hadeon Rosomakha, must leave his home, his wife, and his daughter after being caught spying for Ukrainian nationalists. He journeys to London, where he assumes a new identity in shame, far from his family. But this tale isn’t about Lyaksandro. Rather, Brown focuses on the women he left behind: Ivanna, his wife; and Yevtsye, his daughter. Moving from the 1970s to the present day, the story chronicles the women’s experiences, providing a rich overview of the end of the Soviet Union and the intellectual and social unrest that creates an independent Ukraine. The most intriguing moments explore the tensions between mother and daughter, who represent contrasting views of the Soviet Union and Ukrainian nationalism. Ivanna is a secular Communist Party loyalist, while her daughter is swept up by the appeals for Ukrainian autonomy and by the Orthodox Church. But through these women’s eyes, momentous events in history and economic and social policies become catalysts to explore a dynamic familial relationship and highlight how the duo survives in the face of outside pressures, including food shortages and political turbulence. Eventually, Yevtsye welcomes her own daughter, Ionna, into the family (which includes her husband, Danya). When Ionna’s birth leads to Yevtsye’s postpartum depression, the story offers a vivid, complementary series of glimpses of motherhood in which the complicated emotions of one mother-daughter pair are examined next to those of another. Ultimately, Ionna, who grows up craving to become a writer, brings the engrossing narrative forward from the end of the 20th century into the 21st. While there’s a great deal of improbability in her portion of the tale, with plenty of airport hijinks, Ionna’s story of her own struggle for survival (mirroring her mother’s and grandmother’s) brings the novel—and many of its threads—to a satisfying and resonant close.

A compassionate, balanced, and engaging look at generational conflict—and resolution—during social upheaval.

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63988-142-0

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022


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


The writing is inspired, the imaginative power near mystic, but some will wish for more plot.

This historical fever dream of a novel follows the flight of a servant girl through the Colonial American wilderness, red in tooth and claw.

As in her last novel, Matrix (2021), Groff’s imaginative journey into a distant time and place is powered by a thrumming engine of language and rhythm. “She had chosen to flee, and in so choosing, she had left behind her everything she had, her roof, her home, her country, her language, the only family she had ever known, the child Bess, who had been born into her care when she was herself a small child of four years or so, her innocence, her understanding of who she was, her dreams of who she might one day be if only she could survive this starving time." Those onrushing sentences will follow the girl, “sixteen or seventeen or perhaps eighteen years of age,” through the wilderness surrounding the desperate colony, driven by famine and plague into barbarism, through the territory of “the powhatan and pamunkey” to what she hopes will be “the settlements of frenchmen, canada,” a place she once saw pointed out on a map. The focus is on the terrors of survival, the exigencies of starvation, the challenges of locomotion, the miseries of a body wounded, infected, and pushed beyond its limit. What plot there is centers on learning the reason for her flight and how it will end, but the book must be read primarily for its sentences and the light it shines on the place of humans in the order of the world. Whether she is eating baby birds and stealing the fluff from the mother’s nest to line her boots, having a little tea party with her meager trove of possessions, temporarily living inside a tree trunk that comes with a pantry full of grubs (spiders prove less tasty), or finally coming to rest in a way neither she nor we can foresee, immersion in the girl’s experience provides a virtual vacation from civilization that readers may find deeply satisfying.

The writing is inspired, the imaginative power near mystic, but some will wish for more plot.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593418390

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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