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IN TONGUES

This story of a miscreant who grows up will stick with you long after the last page.

A young gay man grows from a life of “reckless impulses” into a reflective adult in this affecting novel.

Queer fiction is studded with vaguely amoral, menacing protagonists, characters who know they’re bad and relish it, tossing right back at the world the anomie thrust at them just for being queer. Gordon is 24, raised in Minneapolis by working-class parents who don’t like each other. It’s 2001, before the 9/11 attacks, when he lights out for New York City after having been dumped by his boyfriend—with the help of $200 he stole from said boyfriend. Eventually, he finds work as a dog walker for wealthy art gallery owners Philip and Nicola. They soon ask him to become their personal assistant; that’s when Grattan lets loose his piercing observations of how the rich exercise their power. Nicola is catty and resentful of Gordon’s presence while Philip, patrician and aloof, is kinder. Gordon has a lot to learn in order to maneuver the intricacies of their refined lives—until he makes a mistake that will sever the deep relationship among the three of them. Impish and careless for much of the novel, Gordon grows into someone whose badness diminishes, though his memory of it still pricks like a thorn in his side. It was a wise choice to have Gordon narrate the novel, and he has a memorable voice: funny, dark, and eventually chastened. The novel builds on the self-involved, sometimes cruel protagonists of Edmund White’s early work, though Gordon learns to rein himself in instead of committing more mayhem.

This story of a miscreant who grows up will stick with you long after the last page.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9780374608187

Page Count: 288

Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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THE WOMEN

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

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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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