Don't even try to look away from this incandescently furious chronicle of a woman's return from hell.

NEGLECT

When an Afghanistan vet on the poverty line caves in to PTSD and despair, the state removes her 10-year-old twins.

"Erin, the athlete, the smart one. Erin, who never seemed to need anyone or anything, sailing through high school without studying, doing everything right...Erin, in Tanya's younger-sister eyes, had always seemed invulnerable." But now Tanya has had to fly home to rural New York, where her sister lies in a psych ward after an alcohol relapse and a suicide attempt, her children sent to live with the father who abandoned them. Wozencraft, author of the 1990 bestseller Rush, which went deep into the psyche of a female narcotics detective, again shows she has no fear of the dark in this astringent novel about the ravages of alcohol, war, poverty, sexual predators, and bureaucracy. Erin joined the Army on impulse because her marriage was crumbling and both she and Eddy had lost their jobs, but when she gets back, there is only less money, less connection, and much more trauma. The novel tracks her through the insane, inhuman obstacle course laid out for her by the justice system and social service authorities if she has any hope of setting eyes on her children again. If she fails, her social worker assures her, she "won't be allowed to have so much as a school picture." At the same time, flashbacks reveal the unholy nightmare of her Afghanistan tour. Also introduced is a young Afghan girl named Fatima, imprisoned for talking to a boy in the public library. As bad as her situation is, "her mother had lived through the Taliban and feared they would once again come to power and once again shut down the schools, rewrite history, force women indoors, and order that windows be blackened so nobody could see females from the streets." The timing of this tense, unflinching drama, as Fatima's mother's fears are realized in current headlines, makes it even more urgent.

Don't even try to look away from this incandescently furious chronicle of a woman's return from hell.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5107-6439-2

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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CLOUD CUCKOO LAND

An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future.

Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lip—but forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled ex–GI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Library—unaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146.

As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982168-43-8

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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