May 15, 2017 Booklist 17 www.booklistonline.com
Niloo’s father, Bahman, who promises they will
reunite. Yet 22 years pass, and Bahman remains
in Iran, seeing his daughter only a handful of
times. Niloo’s memories of these visits reveal a
complicated relationship between her and her
father, further compounded by his opium addiction, and her recollections become entwined
with their current lives. Niloo, now married
and living in Amsterdam, has few personal
connections with others until she discovers
a Persian arts space, where she forges a bond
with a group of exiles and activists. As Niloo
becomes more involved with the refugees’
plights, she finds herself struggling with her
own self-identity. Meanwhile, the gregarious
Bahman is placed under house arrest, forcing
him to confront his demons. Set against landscapes of political unrest, Nayeri’s (A Teaspoon
of Earth and Sea, 2013) novel of a daughter and
father seeking to reconcile their long-distance
perceptions of family offers a captivating, multilayered exploration of lives caught between
worlds. —Leah Strauss
The Salt House.
By Lisa Duffy.
June 2017. 304p. Touchstone, paper, $16 (9781501156557).
The Kelly family’s lives are torn apart by grief
when one-year-old Maddie dies as the result of
a tragic accident. Each family member copes
with his or her emotions differently—Hope
literally hides her unwillingness to move past
her grief by hiding Maddie’s ashes in her closet;
Jack pours all of his energy into work, ignoring both his physical and emotional pain; and
teenage Jess keeps what she knows about the
accident a secret from her younger sister, Kat.
As the first anniversary of Maddie’s death approaches, the appearance of Ryland Finn, who
shares a complex and tense past with Jack Kelly,
forces the Kellys to confront their relationships
with one another as well as with their beloved
community. Duffy tells the story through alternating viewpoints, giving readers a glimpse into
each character’s emotional life as well as what
they hide from the people they love. The coastal
Maine setting is common in women’s fiction,
but instead of summer vacationers, the Kellys
are locals whose lives mirror the rugged but
beautiful landscape that surrounds them. This
insightful, emotionally potent debut is ideal for
fans of Amy Hatvany. —Nanette Donohue
Sin of a Woman.
By Kimberla Lawson Roby.
June 2017. 320p. Grand Central, $26 (9781455569694);
e-book, $13.99 (9781455569700).
In the latest Curtis Black novel, following A
Sinful Calling (2016), Raven has divorced Pas-
tor Black’s son, Dillon, and is now pastor of her
own growing church, which she founded with
Portia, one of the women with whom Dillon
betrayed her. The dollars and membership are
increasing, and Raven is hoping to develop a
television show. But her jealousy over the atten-
tion Portia is getting provokes her into making
a video in which she confesses that she was
raped and hints that her attacker was Pastor
Black. Her machinations cause the loan shark
she once robbed to reenter her life, demanding
a huge payoff. She embezzles funds and tries
to blackmail Portia. As Raven descends, Portia
starts listening to God and changing her sinful
actions. Bad deeds always come into the light
in Roby’s engrossing and dramatic Black nov-
els, and readers will enjoy the journeys of both
women as well as Roby’s skill in showing the ef-
fects of greed and redemption. Roby continues
to please her fans. —Amy Alessio
The Sisters Chase.
By Sarah Healy.
June 2017. 304p. HMH, $25 (9780544960077).
The bond between sisters is tested in Healy’s
(House of Wonder, 2014) gripping and beautifully written new novel.
Full of twists and turns, the
story begins with the birth of
Hannah Chase and follows
the course of her childhood
through the eyes of older sister Mary. An intriguing and
complicated soul, Mary is
bold, deceiving, courageous,
protective, and constantly using her extreme
beauty as a weapon. But Mary’s lies are unsettling, pushing all but a few away and forcing
the girls into a life on the road. Eventually, this
deceitfulness comes back to haunt Mary, and
she can no longer hide the truth from Hannah
or herself any longer. The Sisters Chase remains
with the reader long after the last page, for
Healy’s writing effortlessly brings to life not
only the intricacies of Mary’s troubled mind but
also the vastness of the girls’ nomadic life from
coast to coast. In this outstanding balancing act
of mystery and love story, lies and truth become
hard to unravel as the reader is drawn right to
the center of an extraordinary relationship. A
truly entrancing and relentless tale of love, betrayal, and sisterhood. —Melissa Norstedt
YA: Teens may relate to Mary’s
restlessness and desire to escape familial
responsibilities, and they might appreciate
the strong sibling bond, as well. MN.
Strangers to Temptation.
By Scott Gould.
June 2017. 220p. Hub City, paper, $16.95
Gould’s debut story collection could also be
categorized as a novel, or a fictional memoir, as
each story is told from the perspective of an un-
named, 12-year-old boy. Set in the early 1970s
in Kingstree, South Carolina, the books’s af-
fable, innocent narrator vividly brings to life a
series of lovingly sketched townspeople across
13 vignettes. Echoing Jeffrey Eugenides’ The
Virgin Suicides (1993), a central part of Gould’s
tales of Kingstree life is observing others, most
obviously in “Watching,” enabling the narra-
tor to paint a panoramic picture of the town.
Gould explores themes of race, religion, class
(especially in “What It Means to be Poor”), and
the stirrings of sexuality. The choice of a young
narrator provides a unique perspective on this
tumultuous period; for instance, desegregation
concerns the adults deeply, while the children
see it as “boring.” They are more concerned
with staying entertained over the long sum-
mers as they fish, jump off bridges, throw mud
at trains, and long for air-conditioning. Mixing
subtle humor with distinct moments of pathos,
Gould is a southern writer of immense prom-
ise. —Alexander Moran
YA: Gould’s narrator, on the cusp of
adolescence, might appeal to teen fans of
literary fiction. AM.
By Jill Eisenstadt.
June 2017. 272p. Little, Brown, $26 (9780316316903);
e-book, $13.99 (9780316316897).
In Eisenstadt’s follow-up to her much earlier From Rockaway (1987), we’re back at the
beach with some of the same characters. The
previous book was a coming-of-age story about
the lives of young people in Rockaway looking for direction. This time those characters
are older, dealing with very different kinds of
issues, some personal, others driven by current events; the book opens with a boatload
of illegal Chinese aliens landing on Rockaway
Beach in 1993 and moves on to the effects of
9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. Matriarch Rose
Impolitari is at the center of the novel; after a
brief hiatus at an assisted-care facility elsewhere
in Queens, she returns to Rockaway, and her
presence impacts the rest of the cast, including pregnant Sue Glassman, whose decision
to convert to Judaism leads to a “conversion
party” that is one of the book’s fine set pieces.