A moving and life-affirming portrait of grief that’s sure to bring the tears.

PACK UP THE MOON

A young widower begrudgingly attempts to move on when he receives assignments from his beloved late wife.

Joshua Park has never had an easy time getting close to people. He’s brilliant, with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and a job as a medical device engineer, but as someone on the autism spectrum, he often doesn’t pick up on social cues. But none of that is an issue with his wife, Lauren, a public space designer. The two of them are madly in love with one another—and then Lauren is diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease in which fibers grow in her lungs and make breathing difficult (and, eventually, impossible). Her terminal diagnosis means that their marriage will be briefer than they ever imagined…but, unbeknownst to Josh, Lauren has a plan to take care of him when she’s gone. After Lauren’s death, Josh doesn’t know how he’ll get through the day, let alone the rest of his life. But then the first letter comes. Before her death, Lauren wrote him a letter for each month of his first year without her, each one containing a task that will help him keep going. They start out relatively easy (going to the grocery store) but gradually require him to open himself up more. Lauren’s instructions initially annoy Josh, but eventually he begins to connect with new people—and the people who were already there for him. Higgins deftly navigates a premise that could’ve been sappy and instead turns it into something poignant, realistic, and occasionally even funny. Josh and Lauren never seem like caricatures of a grieving widower or a selfless, angelic dead wife. Instead, they are fully rounded characters with flaws and eccentricities. The story alternates between Josh’s present-day attempts to live his new life and Lauren’s point of view in the past, making her feel like a real person instead of just a saintly presence. The amount of detail around Lauren’s disease is both impressive and heartbreaking to read. The characters surrounding Josh and Lauren are all complex and quirky, and seeing Josh accept love from the people in his life, both from new friends and old family members, is just as sob-inducing as reading about how he loses Lauren.

A moving and life-affirming portrait of grief that’s sure to bring the tears.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-451-48948-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A sweet, funny, and angst-filled romance with a speculative twist.

ONE LAST STOP

A young woman meets the love of her life on the subway, but there’s one problem: Her dream girl is actually a time traveler from the 1970s.

Twenty-three-year-old August Landry arrives in New York with more cynicism than luggage (she can fit everything she owns into five boxes, and she’d love to downsize to four), hoping to blend in and muddle through. She spent most of her childhood helping her amateur sleuth mother attempt to track down August’s missing uncle, and all that detective work didn’t leave a lot of time for things like friendship and fun. But she ends up finding both when she moves into an apartment full of endearing characters—Niko, a trans psychic whose powers are annoyingly strong; his charismatic artist girlfriend, Myla; and their third roommate, a tattoo artist named Wes. And then, on a fateful subway ride, she meets Jane. Jane isn’t like any other girl August has ever met, and eventually, August finds out why—Jane, in her ripped jeans and leather jacket, is actually a time traveler from the 1970s, and she’s stuck on the Q train. As August, who's bisexual, navigates the complexity of opening her heart to her first major crush, she realizes that she might be the only one with the knowledge and skills to help Jane finally break free. McQuiston, author of the beloved Red, White, and Royal Blue (2019), introduces another ensemble full of winning, wacky, impossibly witty characters. Every scene that takes place with August’s chosen family of friends crackles with electricity, warmth, and snappy pop-culture references, whether they’re at a charmingly eccentric 24-hour pancake diner or a drag queen brunch. But there are also serious moments, both in the dramatic yearning of August and Jane’s limited love affair (it can be hard to be romantic when all your dates take place on the subway) and in the exploration of the prejudice and violence Jane and her friends faced as queer people in the 1970s. The story does drag on a bit too long, but readers who persevere through the slower bits will be rewarded with a moving look at the strength of true love even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

A sweet, funny, and angst-filled romance with a speculative twist.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-4449-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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The most comforting of comfort-food reading—with a few chills for fun.

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LEGACY

Roberts sticks to formula in this romantic thriller—which should please fans and newcomers alike.

The only daughter of a woman with a wildly successful fitness company, 7-year-old Adrian Rizzo is used to traveling with her mother for videos and photo shoots, the child star of the brand. But everything changes one night when a man breaks into their house, confronts her mother for destroying his marriage, and then dies in a fall down the stairs. Adrian spends the summer with her beloved grandparents, enjoying the idyllic pace of small-town life and making some strong connections. Several years later, teenage Adrian gains the confidence to start her own business with the help of some high school misfits who become her best friends. Fast-forward a few years: Adrian’s grandmother dies in an accident followed by the death of a friend's wife. Adrian decides to move in with her grandfather and to finally make a home. As frequently happens in Roberts’ novels, Adrian's friends all end up living nearby, and they create a loyal, loving network that sees them all through marriage, birth, loss, success, and the other touchstones of maturity. In the background lurks a threat, though: For years, Adrian has been receiving disturbing letters signed only "The Poet," and they begin to arrive more frequently. Adrian’s perfect, messy, successful life—and blossoming relationship—may be in danger from this psychopath, but her friends and family will be there to support and protect her to the happiest of endings. If you're a fan of Roberts’ thrillers, the structure of this novel will bring few surprises, but the familiarity is comforting. Roberts’ strength has always been her ability to create likable, complex characters, and this crew is even more appealing than most—they are never whiny in insecurity or snobbish in success; rather, they provide unwavering support for each other’s ups and downs.

The most comforting of comfort-food reading—with a few chills for fun.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7293-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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