An engaging if somewhat flat teenage narrative of an apparent abduction and a dissolving friendship.

WE RUN THE TIDES

A novel of youth and not-quite-innocence set in 1980s California, where teenage loyalties are tested by the disappearance of one girl and the growing suspicion, on the part of her best friend, that an elaborate deception may have been perpetrated.

Thirteen-year-old Eulabee, “a very good student with a sinister side,” and her best friend, Maria Fabiola, a precocious beauty, are as lucky as any California girls can be. Living in the wealthy enclave of Sea Cliff with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge (though Eulabee’s family is not rich), they attend the exclusive Spragg School for Girls and are renowned for their daring ability to scale the local cliffs and to read the treacherous ocean tides. They also know “where the boys live” in their neighborhood, though the danger at the heart of the novel resides elsewhere. “Separately we are good girls,” Eulabee explains, “together...we are trouble.” Innocent trouble, that is, of the teenage variety involving drugs (negligible), alcohol (purveyed by bad boys), and lying to parents and teachers. The first shadow to fall on this breezy narrative is that of a parked car noticed by the girls one morning on their way to school. The driver asks them the time, they answer and walk on, but Maria Fabiola insists, “He was touching himself…and he said he’s going to find us later!” Eulabee, who says she didn’t see this happen, is branded a traitor at school (and later a “slut” for being mauled at a party). Then Maria Fabiola goes missing. Two more apparent disappearances follow, one all too real. The narrative darkens, and Eulabee’s impulse to uncover the truth behind the initial event both increases her isolation and, ironically, intensifies the tabloid drama. “The newspapers called what happened the Sea Cliff Seizures, and the name stuck,” she reflects decades later when a chance meeting in 2019 sheds new light on the distant affair. That final chapter, in its compressed elegance and psychological subtlety, also hints at the novel that might have been.

An engaging if somewhat flat teenage narrative of an apparent abduction and a dissolving friendship.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-293623-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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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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