Smarter and more thoughtful than its cinematic inspirations.

THE FLYING TROUTMANS

Emulating the comedic stylings of indie hits like Little Miss Sunshine provides a wealth of material and a breath of fresh air for Canadian novelist Toews (A Boy of Good Breeding, 2006, etc).

“Yeah, so things have fallen apart,” declares reluctant narrator Hattie Troutman, summarizing her situation with a postmodern echo of Yeats’ famous lament. Yanked from her Parisian fantasy life as an expatriate living with her leech of a boyfriend, prodigal sibling Hattie rushes home to Manitoba when her sister Min is hospitalized with another catatonic bout, symptomatic of a lifelong mental illness. Hattie is marooned with Min’s 11-year-old daughter Thebes, a goofy smart aleck with a predilection for busting into gangsta rap, and 15-year-old son Logan, a moody renegade who channels his aggression into basketball. Absent of maternal instincts, Hattie decides the best course of action is a road trip to find the kids’ long-absent father, Doug Cherkis. Commandeering a beat-up van, the trio travels through the alien landscapes of Cheyenne, Moab and Twentynine Palms in search of the anarchic artist who reportedly spawned the lesser Troutmans. Life on the road doesn’t increase Hattie’s affection toward her charges. “I thought: Strangle the children, dump their bodies in the ditch,” she notes early in her voyage. With barbed wit, Toews plunders some of the emotional themes from her earlier work, among them absent fathers, the trials of adolescence and the tribulations of single motherhood. The story feels suspiciously directionless much of the time. Fortunately, the snappy personalities of Hattie’s charges and the odd collection of ramblers, Jesus freaks and vagabonds they encounter make for entertaining interludes between the deliciously uncomfortable silences of the book’s primary characters.

Smarter and more thoughtful than its cinematic inspirations.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-58243-439-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more