A delicious treat filled with South Asian fervor and Canadian heart.

HANA KHAN CARRIES ON

A young Canadian Muslim woman finds that sticking to one’s principles is not for the faint of heart, especially when you’re juggling two jobs—and a brewing romance.

Twenty-four-year-old Hanaan “Hana” Khan has her hands full: She has an internship at a local Toronto indie radio station; a job at her family restaurant, Three Sisters Biryani Poutine; and a self-produced podcast, Ana’s Brown Girl Rambles. Unfortunately, the internship is not quite the career launchpad that Hana hoped it would be. Worse, Three Sisters is in trouble despite the family’s best efforts. Wholistic Burgers and Grill, claiming to do halal right, is opening across the street, threatening to further sink the Khan family’s fortunes after 15 years of business. It doesn’t help that handsome Aydin Shah is spearheading the new restaurant with his rich father and threatening to gentrify the diverse Scarborough neighborhood. Hana’s podcast might be the one lifeline she has, especially as she finds a confidant in devoted admirer StanleyP. But Hana is not one to give up without a fight. She recruits Rashid, her newly arrived cousin from India, and other neighborhood players for a restaurant survival plan. But Cupid has other ideas. Hana finds there’s more to Aydin than his sexy silver shades and is not sure what to make of her budding feelings for the enemy. Jalaluddin has a keen ear for rapid-fire dialogue and lively characters who add plenty of color. Hana’s feistiness and occasional impulsiveness make her an endearing protagonist, and you'll root for her especially when darker events threaten to torpedo the carefully constructed community festival her family has cobbled together. Certain predictable plot elements notwithstanding, there’s plenty of lighthearted whimsy to warm a reader’s heart.

A delicious treat filled with South Asian fervor and Canadian heart.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33636-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

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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