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HOMEFRONT

An engrossing collection grounded by the complex emotional dynamics between soldiers and their families.

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Kelly presents an anthology of stories reflecting the effects of war on home and family.

Drawing on her experiences as the wife of a fighter pilot during her husband’s three wartime deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the author, a novelist and poet, collects here 14 tales inspired by the lives of women affected by military service and war. Kelly observes that the stress and sadness that come with the death of a loved one can often become catalysts for personal change, as evidenced in the opening story, “Finding the Good Light,” in which Diane, emotionally exhausted after attending eight military funerals and divorcing her Navy husband, finds renewal by becoming a Hollywood actress. One of the author’s most obvious storytelling strengths is her credible, acute portrayal of interpersonal tensions, as demonstrated in the memorable “Prayers of an American Wife,” when one Navy wife discovers another, who happens to be her neighbor, enjoying an illicit extramarital affair. While noticing a strange male visitor entering her neighbor’s house through the side door one day, the faithful observing wife finds herself “savagely heartbroken,” nervously clutching her Pomeranian, who’s blissfully “unaware of the betrayal happening just across the lawn.” This knack is evident even in the collection’s shortest tale, “The Strangers of Dubai,” in which a soldier on leave with his wife visits an Afghan gold market with questionable bargaining tactics. The affecting coming-of-age evolution of a military brat in “Rachel’s Story” profiles a girl as she rapidly learns about big-city life, friendship, love, and the precious commodity of time. Kelly clearly channeled her own emotions, confusion, loneliness, sacrifice, and love into these stories illuminating the struggle of family members who may not be fighting wars on the battlefield but are keeping the home fires burning. These themes provide richly resonant material for these well-written short stories about the wartime experience told from the perspectives of those waiting patiently (and impatiently) at home.

An engrossing collection grounded by the complex emotional dynamics between soldiers and their families.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781647791445

Page Count: 172

Publisher: University of Nevada Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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THE GOD OF THE WOODS

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Many years after her older brother, Bear, went missing, Barbara Van Laar vanishes from the same sleepaway camp he did, leading to dark, bitter truths about her wealthy family.

One morning in 1975 at Camp Emerson—an Adirondacks summer camp owned by her family—it's discovered that 13-year-old Barbara isn't in her bed. A problem case whose unhappily married parents disdain her goth appearance and "stormy" temperament, Barbara is secretly known by one bunkmate to have slipped out every night after bedtime. But no one has a clue where's she permanently disappeared to, firing speculation that she was taken by a local serial killer known as Slitter. As Jacob Sluiter, he was convicted of 11 murders in the 1960s and recently broke out of prison. He's the one, people say, who should have been prosecuted for Bear's abduction, not a gardener who was framed. Leave it to the young and unproven assistant investigator, Judy Luptack, to press forward in uncovering the truth, unswayed by her bullying father and male colleagues who question whether women are "cut out for this work." An unsavory group portrait of the Van Laars emerges in which the children's father cruelly abuses their submissive mother, who is so traumatized by the loss of Bear—and the possible role she played in it—that she has no love left for her daughter. Picking up on the themes of families in search of themselves she explored in Long Bright River (2020), Moore draws sympathy to characters who have been subjected to spousal, parental, psychological, and physical abuse. As rich in background detail and secondary mysteries as it is, this ever-expansive, intricate, emotionally engaging novel never seems overplotted. Every piece falls skillfully into place and every character, major and minor, leaves an imprint.

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593418918

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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SANDWICH

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

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During an annual beach vacation, a mother confronts her past and learns to move forward.

Her family’s annual trip to Cape Cod is always the highlight of Rocky’s year—even more so now that her children are grown and she cherishes what little time she gets with them. Rocky is deep in the throes of menopause, picking fights with her loving husband and occasionally throwing off her clothes during a hot flash, much to the chagrin of her family. She’s also dealing with her parents, who are crammed into the same small summer house (with one toilet that only occasionally spews sewage everywhere) and who are aging at an alarmingly rapid rate. Rocky’s life is full of change, from her body to her identity—she frequently flashes back to the vacations of years past, when her children were tiny. Although she’s grateful for the family she has, she mourns what she’s lost. Newman (author of the equally wonderful We All Want Impossible Things, 2022) imbues Rocky’s internal struggles with importance and gravity, all while showcasing her very funny observations about life and parenting. She examines motherhood with a raw honesty that few others manage—she remembers the hard parts, the depths of despair, panic, and anxiety that can happen with young children, and she also recounts the joy in a way that never feels saccharine. She has a gift for exploring the real, messy contradictions in human emotions. As Rocky puts it, “This may be the only reason we were put on this earth. To say to each other, I know how you feel.”

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9780063345164

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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