Flesh and Bone and Water.
By Luiza Sauma.
June 2017. 272p. Scribner, $26 (9781501158025); e-book
André, a doctor living in London, receives a
letter that pulls him immediately into his past.
He’s currently separated from his wife (at her
request) and their teenage daughters. The letter’s sender is Luana, the beautiful daughter
of the maid who raised André back in Brazil.
A year his junior, Luana worked for his family, too, and as more notes arrive, without her
surname or a return address, André remembers
events of his late teen years. His mother had
just died, his father was working long days as
a plastic surgeon and also at an illegal after-hours business, and his much younger brother
was even lonelier than he. An implicitly out-of-bounds, fluttering crush on Luana became
mutual before a wrenching turn of events sent
André an ocean away. They lost touch completely. How and why did she find him now?
This quiet, inwardly focused, fast-moving, and
well-plotted debut is confidently voiced by André in both middle age and in vivid, lurching
flashbacks. Brazilian-born Sauma depicts her
and her protagonist’s vast, beguiling homeland
with sweltering realism. —Annie Bostrom
By Melissa Scholes Young.
June 2017. 304p. Center Street, $26 (9781478970781);
e-book, $13.99 (9781478970767).
When Laura Brooks returns to her home-
town of Hannibal, Missouri, she tells her
mother she is just there for her upcoming 10-
year reunion, and herself that the move is only
temporary while she figures out what comes
next. But going home is never simple, especially
when home is a small town with big talkers and
a lot of baggage. Treated alternately as traitor
and escapee, Laura is dogged by her failure to
“make it” after getting out of town, but as she
reconnects with friends and family, she finds
that she isn’t the only broken one. Still uncer-
tain of her future, when things start rekindling
with her high-school sweetheart she realizes
she is more tied to her roots than she imag-
ined. With both past and future tugging at her
heartstrings, which way will she turn? Debut
novelist Young, a native of Hannibal, creates a
delightful setting in the heart of Mark Twain
country for this story of self-realization and
redemption. Occasional anachronisms and so-
cial inconsistencies are distracting, but Laura’s
path is ultimately uplifting and heartwarming.
A French Wedding.
By Hannah Tunnicliffe.
June 2017. 320p. Doubleday, $25.95 (9780385541848).
Max is a big-time rock star and lead guitarist
for The Jacks, and he is about to turn 40. What
better way to celebrate than with his “family,”
the friends who have known him since the
days of being a starving artist, for a weekend
of food, booze, and reminiscing at his home on
the French coast? Among the crowd is Juliette,
Max’s housekeeper and cook, who finds herself
drawn ever deeper into the loves and losses of
this tight-knit group of friends. Juliette has
lost everything in quick succession—her parents, her restaurant, her lover—and has found
solace in the quiet of Max’s seaside retreat. In
the course of just four days, relationships will
be made and unmade, secrets will come to
light, and lives will reach a turning point—all
culminating in a wedding that many of the
assembled guests never expected. Tunnicliffe
delivers a solid story with a cinematic sweep
that brings together an ensemble of complex,
fully developed characters and a lovingly rendered setting, sure to please fans of romantic
women’s fiction. —Diana Platt
The Gypsy Moth Summer.
By Julia Fierro.
June 2017. 400p. St. Martin’s, $26 (9781250087515);
In the summer of 1992, Avalon Island is invaded by pestilential colonies of gypsy moths.
In spite of the plague, defiant teen Maddie is
determined to enjoy the summer, but the vora-
cious caterpillars are not the only threat to her
happiness. Someone is confronting the aviation
factory, the island’s main eco-
nomic driver and possibly the
source of carcinogenic pollu-
tion. Maddie’s grandparents,
the once-feared and revered
Colonel Pencott and his wife,
Victoria, have returned from
their mainland retirement to
rescue the business, but the
simultaneous homecoming of their prodigal
heiress, Leslie Marshall Day, along with her chil-
dren and her African American husband, Jules, a
botanist, creates racial tension in the prejudiced
town. As the moths blanket the island, Jules
struggles against their meaningless destruction,
Victoria fights to protect her husband’s legacy,
and Maddie and Leslie and Jules’ son are drawn
to each other, as everything is shadowed by po-
litical and social unrest. Though the novel is
initially hampered by character inconsistency,
Fierro (Cutting Teeth, 2014) hits her stride and
succeeds in creating a suspenseful, richly sym-
bolic drama and coming-of-age story. Poignant,
raw, and, at times, brutally honest about the
poison concealed behind the charming facade
of a quaint community, this is an intense and
meaningful read. —Cortney Ophoff
YA: YAs will get caught up in the
story of Maddie and the other teen
characters as they face complex social and
environmental problems. CO.
By Marcia Willett.
June 2017. 304p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $26.99
British writer Willett (Postcards from the Past,
2015) introduces Sir Mungo Kreslake as he
retires from his illustrious acting career and
relocates at his family’s estate in the Devon
countryside. His brother, Archie, and his wife
live just down the lane, as do his elderly cousins, Philip and Billy. There are even properties
Donna Levin Returns with
an Acclaimed New Novel!
“In an extraordinary setting, the deepest human
emotion and fears come to the fore in a curiously
captivating and unexpected way." —Jacquelyn
Mitchard, author, Oprah’s Book Club® Selection
novel, The Deep End of the Ocean (Penguin Books)
"A witty, modern voice delivers a captivating tale
about a mysterious death that feels like a light
read but soon submerges the reader deep into the
throes of substance." —Kirkus Reviews
Chickadee Prince Books, Brooklyn