Stunners: Li’s memorable duo, their lives, their losses.

THE BOOK OF GOOSE

Who lives, who dies, who tells your story—and is it your story to tell? (Apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

Inseparable young teens Agnès and Fabienne share a world they’ve created for themselves in rural, ruined, post–World War II France. Fabienne is unschooled and rebellious, while the more passive Agnès is disenfranchised from her schoolmates and family members. A “game” concocted by the girls—that of writing stories so the world will (ostensibly) know how they lived—launches a series of events that propels Agnès to Paris and London and into the publishing world and a finishing school, while Fabienne remains at home in their rural village, tending to farm animals. The arc of their intense adolescent friendship comes under Agnès’ critical lens when she learns of Fabienne’s death after years of emotional and geographic distance between the two. Now freed to write her own story, Agnès narrates the course of events which thrust her into the world as a teen prodigy at the same time she was removed, reluctantly, from Fabienne’s orbit. Li’s measured and exquisite delivery of Agnès’ revelations conveys the balance and rebalance of the girls’ relationship over time but also illuminates the motivations of writers (fame, revenge, escape) and how power within a relationship mutates and exploits. The combination the girls bring to their intimate relationship and endeavors (one seeking to experience things she could not achieve alone, the other providing the experiences) leads Agnès first to believe they were two halves of a whole. Knives, minerals, oranges, and the game of Rock Paper Scissors sneak into Agnès’ narrative as she relates the trajectory of a once-unbreakable union. The relative hardness of those substances is a clue to understanding it all.

Stunners: Li’s memorable duo, their lives, their losses.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60634-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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