A poignant tale about grappling with loss, disability, and forgiveness.


A fractured family comes together to raise an autistic child.

Zacher’s debut novel is an unsparingly dramatic read from the beginning. Eight-year-old Eric survives the car accident that kills his mother, Megan, leaving him in the care of his grandmother Clarice. To make matters worse, Eric is severely autistic and Clarice is ill-equipped to manage his compulsive behavior, violent fits, and seizures. Eric’s father, Matt, was serving in Iraq when he was born, and the father and son have never met. Clarice contacts Matt to inform him about Megan’s death but withholds Eric’s diagnosis: “I planned to tell him about the autism. Then he asked if Eric knew about him. When I told him no, the conversation ended abruptly.” Once back in California, Matt is crestfallen when he meets Eric. “You had a responsibility to tell me,” he says to Clarice while Eric has a “meltdown” nearby. Fortunately for the characters (and readers), life improves from there. Matt slowly develops a loving relationship with Eric and begins therapy for PTSD. Clarice and Matt build a strong rapport, and Eric, who has referred to them as “CaHeese” and “Mattwho,” promises to call them “Grammy” and “Dad.” Between Megan’s death and Clarice’s grief as well as violent outbursts from both Eric and Matt, the story can feel unrelenting. But the novel is also rich and captivating. The characters are incredibly well drawn, particularly Eric, who loves snakes, dancing, and asking questions: “Do tadpoles go to heaven?” The author deftly handles Eric’s condition and the attention he needs to thrive. His classroom, for example, includes diverse special needs students as well as skilled and compassionate instructors. Jenny, a teaching aide, possesses a particularly “easy way” with the children: “A twinkle in her eye made you feel you could readily warm up to her.” Segments of the tale feel melodramatic, particularly regarding Matt’s service overseas. “You showed me what being a man’s all about, and I wanted you to know,” a subordinate tells Matt before getting killed. Ultimately, though, the story is well executed, offering a memorable glimpse of a family emerging from the ashes of trauma.

A poignant tale about grappling with loss, disability, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73508-030-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Print Stain Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.


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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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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