An insightful examination of two of the many ways gay men present themselves in contemporary America.

LET'S GET BACK TO THE PARTY

Two childhood friends reconnect in their 30s with life-changing consequences.

It’s the summer of 2015, a year before the massacre of 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. Sebastian Mote is a high school art history teacher in a suburb of Washington, D.C., reeling from the end of a three-year relationship. He wants to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s recent marriage equality verdict; some children and a house in the suburbs with raised flower beds would be great, too. His childhood friend Oscar Burnham is a “proud queer” who can’t fathom why any gay man would want to settle for marriage like a “breeder." One night at a gay bar, he confronts a woman who’s part of a bachelorette party after she condescendingly says, “God, I love my gays,” aggressively shaming her into leaving. Sebastian and Oscar narrate alternating chapters of the novel. After they run into each other in D.C., Oscar thinks a visit to Sebastian's house makes him feel “like [he's] stumbled into a diorama in a natural history museum labeled Homo americanus domesticus.” There’s a deep tension between the two that’s sexual but also political: Neither can entirely stomach the life the other has chosen. But to Salih’s credit, the narrators’ personalities don’t fall into tidy moral demarcations; Sebastian, who isn’t adventurous, dangerously pines for one of his 17-year-old students, and Oscar, who has a robust sex life, might just want a steady relationship if he’d admit that to himself.

An insightful examination of two of the many ways gay men present themselves in contemporary America.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61620-957-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 61

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?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 17

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more