Carry the One

by Carol Anshaw |

REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

People PICK

NOVEL

On a moonlit country road, an ancient Dodge packed with guests returning from a wedding spins out of control and kills a little girl. That’s the start of Anshaw’s graceful and compassionate novel, which traces the subsequent paths of everyone involved. Forever changed, forever connected by the terrible, seductive pull of that moment, “we can’t go back and make it right,” says Nick, whose stoned girlfriend was behind the wheel. “So we’re stuck in some kind of endless loop, trying to improve the past.” Carmen, the bride, looks for meaning in family and social activism. Her brother Nick obsessively reaches out to the victim’s family. Their artist sister Alice, immersed in a consuming love affair, produces her finest work, repeatedly painting the doomed girl in her plaid shirt, shorts and beaded moccasins. Writing with rueful wit and a subtle understanding of the currents and passions that rule us, Anshaw demonstrates that struggling to do one’s best, whatever the circumstances, makes for a life of consequence.

Another Piece Of My Heart

by Jane Green |

REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

FICTON

Fans of Green’s female-centric bestsellers (The Beach House, Jemima J) will relish this latest family melodrama, in which a single woman finds the perfect man and plans her happily-ever-after. When Andi meets Ethan, divorced with two young daughters, she thinks love will conquer all. But five years later, the older daughter’s hostility continues, and Andi’s struggle with infertility has taken its toll. Green paints a clear-eyed portrait of the challenges of stepparenting while offering hope that in even the most damaged relationships, dreams can come true.

The Good Father

by Noah Hawley |

REVIEWED BY ANDREW ABRAHAMS

NOVEL

When a Clintonesque presidential candidate is assassinated in L.A., Dr. Paul Allen’s charmed suburban life with his stunning wife, Fran, and their precocious twin boys almost collapses. The alleged shooter? Allen’s aimless college-dropout son Daniel, the wayward product of the good doctor’s disastrous first marriage. With nimble prose and astute psychological insight, Hawley traces Allen’s guilt-racked quest to prove his son’s innocence. The result is a moving family saga that explores the intriguing notion of a statute of limitations on parental responsibility.

Stay Close

by Harlan Coben |

REVIEWED BY JOSH EMMONS

THRILLER

Coben’s new novel takes William Faulkner’s famous statement “The past is never dead. It’s not even past” as its starting point, with terrific results. Seventeen years after a married strip-club addict disappears in Atlantic City, another man goes missing in similar circumstances, and the unsolved mysteries of the old case come back into lurid focus. Part crime procedural, part investigation of how and why people reinvent themselves, Stay Close is funnier and darker than many Coben thrillers, and packs a lot of surprises. It’s the beach read of the pre-beach season.

The New Republic

by Lionel Shriver |

NOVEL

Dramatically different from her chilling 2003 bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin (now a movie starring Tilda Swinton), Shriver’s new novel is a blowsy, cynical romp about journalists sent to cover a mysterious terrorist movement in a part of Portugal known for its howling winds and stinky peras peludas (hairy pears). While Shriver’s urge to entertain can be exhausting, her whip-smart observations-about relationships, the role of the media, the cult of personality-are funny and on the mark.

-H.R.

Hot Cripple

by Hogan Gorman |

REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

MEMOIR

Gorman, a model-actress and, okay, waitress, is gorgeous and looking for her big break. She doesn’t expect it to happen literally. Mowed down by a Mercedes in ’04, she’s left with herniated vertebrae and a swollen brain-and she has no insurance. Gorman tries a little too hard for the big yuks. But Hot Cripple is a sometimes funny, often harrowing look at a fear many of us share: getting seriously injured without the means to pay for it.

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