HOW LUCKY

A lightweight thriller contours an earnest, sincere portrait of a hero whom many insist on seeing as a victim.

The lone witness to an abduction tries to get skeptical police—and a skeptical society—to see past his wheelchair.

Like most residents of Athens, Georgia, 26-year-old Daniel looks forward to the escape of Game Week, when the University of Georgia plays football at home. Unlike most of them, however, Daniel has spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive genetic disorder that attacks the body from the core out. He can still move his left hand, which he uses to operate his wheelchair and type on an iPad that interfaces with his voice speaker and allows him to work on social media for a commuter airline. One morning Daniel sees a familiar young woman climb into a tan Camaro. After she's reported missing, he posts what he saw on Reddit and begins an email exchange with someone claiming to be the car’s driver. The members of a well-drawn, if spare, cast play supporting roles—Marjani, Daniel’s overworked caregiver; Travis, his lifelong best friend, who's “like a stoner Ichabod Crane”; Jennifer, the grad student who is “suddenly the matriarch of this weird little family”—but the story belongs to Daniel. He’s funny, often self-deprecating, and cleareyed about how many people perceive “someone who doesn’t seem to have control of any element of his body,” but he wants people to “remember there’s a person in here.” Leitch, who is abled, drew inspiration from his young son’s friend who was diagnosed with SMA as a toddler, and the best parts of the book are the reflective, informative passages when Daniel is discussing his ever evolving relationship with his condition. The resolution of the mystery is neither surprising nor terribly realistic, but it’s not really the point here.

A lightweight thriller contours an earnest, sincere portrait of a hero whom many insist on seeing as a victim.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307-309-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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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