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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 67

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

Unanswerable questions wrapped inside a thought-provoking yarn.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE STRANGER IN THE LIFEBOAT

An inspirational novel about a disaster and an answered prayer by the author of The Five People You Meet in Heaven (2003).

What if you call out for the Lord and he actually appears before you? Days after billionaire Jason Lambert’s luxury yacht Galaxy suddenly sinks in the North Atlantic with many illustrious passengers aboard, a few survivors float in a life raft. Among them is Benji, a deckhand who narrates the ordeal in a notebook while they desperately hope for rescue. Lambert is a caricature of a greedy capitalist pig who thinks only of himself and his lost ship and mocks Benji as “scribble boy,” but the main character is a young stranger pulled out of the water. “Well, thank the Lord we found you,” a woman tells him. “I am the Lord,” he whispers in reply. Imagine the others’ skepticism: If you’re not lying, then why won’t you save us? Why don’t you answer our prayers? I always answer people’s prayers, he replies, “but sometimes the answer is no.” Meanwhile, the ship’s disappearance is big news as searchers scour the vast ocean in vain. The lost survivors are surrounded by water and dying of thirst, “a grim reminder of how little the natural world cares for our plans.” Out of desperation, one person succumbs to temptation and drinks ocean water—always a bad mistake. Another becomes shark food. The Lord says that for him to help, everyone must accept him first, and Lambert, for one, is having none of it. The storyline and characters aren’t deep, but they’re still entertaining. A disaffected crew member might or might not have sunk the ship with limpet mines. And whether the raft’s occupants survive seems beside the point—does a higher power exist that may pluck believers like Benji safely from the sea? Or is faith a sucker’s bet? Lord knows.

Unanswerable questions wrapped inside a thought-provoking yarn.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-288834-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more