by Tupelo Hassman |
REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN
“Wake up Mama with Alka-Seltzer, plop, plop, fizz, fizz, it don’t matter who the president is. It’s morning again in America.” This is the irrepressible voice of Rory Dawn Hendrix, a young girl sprouting like a weed in the unforgiving terrain of the Calle de las Flores, a Reno trailer park. Tupelo Hassman’s lyrical and fiercely accomplished first novel brings us three generations of Hendrix women washed up in “the Calle”: tough old Grandma Shirley; Rory’s worn-out, haunted mom; and Rory herself, who’s a determined little bookworm. Life at the trailer park is ugly and often terrifying, especially for a vulnerable girlchild. Isolated by her intelligence (“the hot shame of being smart”), her mother’s nighttime bartending shifts and sloppy dating life and the horrendous sexual abuse that she dares not reveal, Rory finds refuge in a battered copy of the Girl Scout Handbook bought for 10 cents from the school librarian. Obsessively following and reinterpreting its rules, she develops the resilience to puzzle out a vision of her future life. In Hassman’s skilled hands, what could have been an unrelenting chronicle of desolation becomes a lovely tribute to the soaring, defiant spirit of a survivor.
by Jodi Picoult |
REVIEWED BY JOANNA POWELL
Picoult runs with the wolves in her compelling latest, a blend of interspecies friendship and searing family crisis. When a car crash leaves Animal Planet’s wolf expert Luke Warren in a vegetative coma but spares his teen daughter, the girl finds herself pitted against her brother, who “quit the family” to teach in Thailand. The ensuing medical and moral quandary-with Luke’s ex caught in the middle-taps a hot-button issue, pulling the plug on life support. The story also incorporates fascinating research about wolf packs as model domestic units. Does the family that howls together stay together? This page-turner will keep you wondering.
by Eleni N. Gage |
REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT
A Jane Austen-ish plot gets a delicious Indian accent in this effervescent novel by former People editor Gage. Maya Das, a psychiatric resident torn between her parents’ traditional values and her bustling New York City life, finds her world upended when her grandmother’s death ostensibly unleashes a curse. Maya’s boyfriend dumps her and she’s faced with a malpractice suit, so she heads back to India to remove the curse, save her family and reboot her life. But in this exotic, mysterious setting, cultures collide, love grows more complicated and Maya finally discovers just whom-and where-she is really meant to be.