An affecting and carefully drawn story of a family on the brink.

A family’s struggles in Philadelphia are echoed in turmoil in its ancestral Alabama.

Mathis’ follow-up to her brilliant debut, the novel-in-stories The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (2013), concerns three generations of one Black family. In 1985, Ava Carson has escaped her abusive husband, Abemi Reed, but is left homeless and jobless; the shelter that accepts her and her young son, Toussaint, is roach-infested, and lingering trauma interferes with her ability to get her life in order. Toussaint, meanwhile, plays truant and becomes enmeshed in the neighborhood’s street life. Mathis alternates Ava and Toussaint’s ongoing plight with a storyline narrated by Ava’s mother, Dutchess, a one-time traveling blues singer. She’s one of the last residents of an Alabama town, Bonaparte, which is slowly becoming overrun, at times violently, by encroaching white developers from the ironically named Progress Corp., which “pulled it up like a weed and threw it facedown in the dirt.” A glimmer of hope appears with the re-emergence of Toussaint’s father, Cassius Wright, a doctor and former Black Panther who’s trying to launch a much-needed (if technically illegal) neighborhood health clinic and strictly run commune. But order proves slippery, and the novel’s very structure implies that Black families separated by distance and broken by (mainly white) policing and development become nearly impossible to sustain. Mathis’ themes, and sometimes her prose, echo Their Eyes Were Watching God and Sula, two similarly lyrical stories rooted in place and relationships. Though this novel doesn’t enter their ranks, Mathis powerfully evokes the heartbreak and ways best efforts are undermined by social and legal machinery. A determination among all three characters defines the story—Dutchess, Ava, and Toussaint are inheritors of abuse, but Mathis makes them objects of indomitability, not pity.

An affecting and carefully drawn story of a family on the brink.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780525519935

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023


A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022


The people in her books may screw up, but Hilderbrand always gets it right. Kind of amazing.

A dreamy Nantucket house party given by a meticulous hostess goes off the rails.

“When Hollis posts a potato and white cheddar tart with a crispy bacon crust, her foodie community breaks the one-million-member milestone. (Leave it to bacon!)” And leave it to Hilderbrand, in her 30th book of Nantucket-based fiction, to cook up more literary bacon, this time focusing on female friendship, female “friendship,” and the power of the internet and social media. When Hollis Shaw's doctor husband dies in a crash on the way to the airport, she steps back from Hungry With Hollis, her popular website. After moping around her house in “Swellesley” for a while, she returns to Nantucket for the summer, planning a kick-out-the-stops weekend party that will involve one girlfriend from each phase of her life—youth, college, motherhood—plus her favorite internet follower, an Atlanta-based airline pilot, whom she's never actually met. Two of these old pals are definitely not as close to Hollis as they once were, one of them has done her secret harm, and Hollis dramatically increases the potential for trouble by paying her angry 20-something daughter to document the weekend on film. Add two bottles each of Casa Dragones tequila, Triple 8 vodka, and Veuve Clicquot, plus some Hendricks gin and Mount Gay rum—what could possibly go wrong? Known for gently inserting social commentary into her plots, Hilderbrand here highlights the ridiculous fickleness of cancel culture when one of the characters—Dru-Ann, an extremely successful Black sports agent—almost loses her clients, her job, and her boyfriend when a video clip of a private conversation in a restaurant is posted on social media. Everyone says there's no way forward without a self-effacing apology. Dru-Ann says pass the Casa Dragones. Meanwhile, Hollis is about to learn that friendships forged on the internet are not always what they seem. Hilderbrand has announced plans to retire in 2024. Wait—that's next year! No!

The people in her books may screw up, but Hilderbrand always gets it right. Kind of amazing.

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9780316258777

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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