A complex and intimate meditation on love, guilt, and the decisions that haunt us forever.

HADES, ARGENTINA

After a decade abroad, a refugee of Argentina’s Dirty War returns to Buenos Aires, where ghosts of his past guide him through a nightmarish labyrinth of memory, guilt, and loss.

In 1976, Tomás Orilla disappeared from Argentina without a trace, smuggled out by his childhood mentor, the Colonel, after coming dangerously close to death at the hands of the oppressive military junta. Now, 10 years later, he is Thomas Shore, a translator in New York City who is haunted by the traumas of the past and contending with a failing marriage. The impending death of Pichuca, an old family friend, occasions his return to Buenos Aires, where he moved as a teenager under the pretense of attending medical school, though his true motive was to be closer to Pichuca’s daughter, Isabel, a spirited and fiery young woman whom he loved since childhood. But the city Tomás returns to is riddled with ghosts: the ghosts of Isabel and the Colonel, the ghosts of the disappeared and the ghosts of their captors, the ghost of the young man he once was. With the Colonel’s spirit as his guide, Tomás returns to the sites containing all his darkest memories and his most profound regrets, and the boundary between the present and the past becomes increasingly indistinct. Back in 1976, Isabel, who is involved with a leftist insurgent group, exploits Tomás’ devotion to her and requests that he work for her as a double agent, launching a sequence of events that compromises his life: spying on the Colonel and finding employment at a concentration camp for dissidents. However, this is less a tour through memory than a reckoning, as Tomás struggles to identify the discrete choices he would need to undo to prevent Isabel’s disappearance and to save himself from the nightmare of his past.

A complex and intimate meditation on love, guilt, and the decisions that haunt us forever.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18864-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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

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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