A spellbinding, compelling, and multifaceted tale about an Iranian family haunted by war.

A GIRL CALLED RUMI

An Iranian woman living in America confronts the trauma of her war-torn childhood in this debut novel.

Honarvar’s tale opens in Shiraz, Iran, in 1981 during the Iran-Iraq War. Kimia Shams is a 9-year-old girl on an errand to buy naan at a bakery when she is distracted by a puppet show performed by an enigmatic, aging storyteller. The square is targeted by a missile strike, and Kimia is dragged to safety by her brother, Arman. Kimia and her friend Reza Khan return to the scene of the devastation and discover a trapdoor that leads them into the magical realm of the storyteller, Baba Morshed. As the story unfolds, Baba tells the children a quest tale about the Simorgh, a bird from Persian mythology. Fast-forward to 2009, and Kimia is working as a spiritual counselor in California. She and her family still grapple with the psychological impact of war—her mother in particular is afflicted by bouts of shaking yet longs to return to her homeland. Kimia and her family journey to Iran but find themselves in the midst of the Green Uprising, where the ghosts of their past pose a clear danger. Honarvar’s gorgeously evocative prose subtly captures the young Kimia’s irrepressible delight in the face of oppression: “My sun-soaked eyes followed the touch, and although I couldn’t make out his face, I knew it was Reza. I broke into a smile. Not even my hijab could restrain the elation beaming from me.” The narrative is written predominantly from Kimia’s perspective, but some chapters are devoted to the viewpoints of other characters, such as Arman. Each is written in the first person, and although the author presents a variety of distinct voices, some readers may feel that a third-person narrative mode for such players would add further stylistic texture. This is a minor criticism of a story that draws beautifully on the power of Iranian fables to unearth the magical, restorative world that Kimia finds beneath the rubble of war: “The smooth texture of the wall changed to a rugged surface with dramatic peaks and valleys. I paused and examined a stone carving of the giant Simorgh stretched out before me.” This stellar first novel marks the writer as an author to watch.

A spellbinding, compelling, and multifaceted tale about an Iranian family haunted by war.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-942436-46-1

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Forest Avenue Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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