Fiction Reviews | June 1, 2013

return Fiction Reviews | June 1, 2013OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 1, 2013 Carlson, Ron. Return to Oakpine. Viking. Jul. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780670025077. $25.95. F

The small town of Oakpine, WY, is abuzz: Jimmy Brand is coming home. Jimmy made it big in New York as a writer, but he’s out of money and friends, and he has come home to die. Since his father forbids Jimmy to stay in the house, his mother enlists Jimmy’s old friend Craig to turn the garage into a small apartment for Jimmy. Thirty years ago, while they were in high school, Jimmy and Craig had joined with friends Frank and Mason to form a rock and roll band that practiced in this very garage. Eventually, Craig went to Vietnam and returned to work in his father’s hardware store; fixing up the old garage has put the spark back in Craig’s life. Frank also stayed in town, bought real estate, and now owns a brewpub. Mason became a respected Denver attorney but has separated from his wife and is at loose ends. He has come back to Oakpine only to sell his folks’ old place. As the four friends resurrect the band, long-held secrets are revealed and new beginnings forged. VERDICT With spirit and grace, Carlson (The Signal) has caught the essence of what might have been, as well as the importance of friends and family. A touching and affecting work of literary fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 1/25/13.] Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Palisade, CO

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 1, 2013 Fowler, Karen Joy. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Marian Wood: Penguin Group (USA). Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780399162091. $26.95. F

Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club) has written a strong, unsettling novel that draws on true accounts of animal behaviorists raising chimps with infant children. Narrator Rosemary Cooke, now nearing 40, tells a heartbreaking story of her family and a pivotal event that has haunted her all her life. When Rosemary was a month old, her psychologist father brought a three-month-old chimp named Fern into the family to be raised as a sibling to Rosemary and her older brother, Lowell. This experiment, complete with interns moving in to record their observations, comes to an abrupt halt when Rosemary is five. Fern simply disappears, and Rosemary finds the loss of her simian playmate emotionally devastating. Rosemary struggles to understand and to accept that, innocent mistake or not, her actions were possibly responsible for Fern’s being sent away. Taunted at school by the nickname “monkey girl” and later distressed by the sudden disappearance of Lowell, on the lam from the FBI, Rosemary fights her demons to alleviate the damage. VERDICT Fowler explores the depths of human emotions and delivers a tragic love story that captures our hearts. [See Prepub Alert, 11/25/12.] Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Palisade, CO

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 1, 2013 Freeman, Ru. On Sal Mal Lane. Graywolf. 2013. 410p. ISBN 9781555976422. $26. F

As in Freeman’s absorbing 2009 debut, A Disobedient Girl, the intricate lives of young children also take center stage in this latest work. In 1979, the titular Sal Mal Lane is a cul-de-sac on the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s largest city and former capital, Colombo. The Herath family’s arrival with four young children—Suren the musician, Rashmi the singer, Nihil the cricketer, and baby Devi the favored—reshuffles friendships and alliances along the lane. Beyond the safety of this quiet enclave, the rest of the country is at an impasse: ethnic, religious, and political differences stir among a population long plagued by divisions and colonizations. War looms, and tragedy proves inevitable: “Everyone who lived on Sal Mal Lane was implicated in what happened…while this story is about small people, we must consider the fact that their history is long and accord them, too, a story equal to their past.” VERDICT Dates and events ground the novel specifically in Sri Lanka, but the universal narrative of family remains borderless. As witness and storyteller, Freeman never falters, revealing “what happened” with clarity and resolve in prose both lingering and breathtaking. The result is simply stupendous.—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC


The following titles are reviewed in the June 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Allen, Preston L Every Boy Should Have a Man. Akashic. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9781617751622. $23.95; pap. ISBN 9781617751578. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781617751721. F

Begley, Louis. Memories of a Marriage. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Jul. 2013. 208p. ISBN 9780385537469. $25.95. F

Bruni, Sarah. The Night Gwen Stacy Died. Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2013. 272p. illus. ISBN 9780547898162. pap. $14.95. F

Byers, Sam. Idiopathy. Faber & Faber. Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780865477643. $26. F

Castillo, Linda. Her Last Breath. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780312658571. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250031549. F

Coes, Ben. Eye for an Eye: A Dewey Andreas Novel. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781250007162. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250026095. F

Crandall, Susan. Whistling Past the Graveyard. Gallery: S. & S. Jul. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781476707723. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476707730. F

DeYoung, Ursula. Shorecliff. Little, Brown. Jul. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780316213394. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780316213400. F

Dunant, Sarah. Blood & Beauty: The Borgias. Random. Jul. 2013.528p. ISBN 9781400069293. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780679603863. F

Erens, Pamela. The Virgins. Tin House. Aug. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781935639626. pap. $15.95. F

Evanovich, Stephanie. Big Girl Panties. Morrow. Jun. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780062224842. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062224866. F

Forbes, Michele. Ghost Moth. Bellevue Literary. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781934137604. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781934137611. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 1, 2013 Gaiman, Neil. The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Morrow. Jun. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9780062255655. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062255679. F

Grebe, Camilla & Åsa Träff. More Bitter Than Death. S. & S. Jun. 2013. 256p. tr. from Swedish by Tara Chace. ISBN 9781451654608. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781451654646. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 1, 2013 Gregory, Philippa. The White Princess. Touchstone: S. & S. (Cousins War). Aug. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781451626094. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451626155. F

Hamilton, Masha. What Changes Everything. Unbridled. Jun. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781609530914. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781609530921. F

Hammer, Lotte & Soren Hammer. The Hanging: A Thriller. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2013. 304p. tr. from Danish by Ebba Segerberg. ISBN 9780312656645. $24.99; ebk. SBN 9781250021021. F

Hannah, Sophie. Kind of Cruel. Putnam. Aug. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780670785858. $26.95. F

Holt, Elliott. You Are One of Them. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Jun. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781594205286. $25.95. F

Irwin, Ron. Flat Water Tuesday. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250030030. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250030023. F

Koslow, Sally. The Widow Waltz. Viking. Jun. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780670025640. $27.95. F

Lyon, Annabel. The Sweet Girl. Knopf. Jun. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780307962553. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307962560. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 1, 2013McAdam, Colin. A Beautiful Truth. Soho. Sept. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781616953157. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616953164. F

McGrath, Patrick. Constance. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781608199433. $24. F

Nakamura, Fuminori. Evil and the Mask. Soho Crime. Jun. 2013. 368p. tr. from Japanese by Satoko Izumo & Stephen Coates. ISBN 9781616952129. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616952136. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 1, 2013 O’Flynn, Catherine. Mr. Lynch’s Holiday. Holt. Oct. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780805091816. $26. F

Robinson, Roxana. Sparta. Sarah Crichton: Farrar. Jun. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780374267704. $27. F

Sapienza, Goliarda. The Art of Joy. Farrar. Jul. 2013. 704p. tr. from Italian by Anne Milano Appel. ISBN 9780374106140. $30. F

Schanbacher, Gary. Crossing Purgatory. Pegasus. Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781605984438. $25. F

OrangeReviewStar Fiction Reviews | June 1, 2013 Silver, Elizabeth. The Execution of Noa P. Singleton. Crown. Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780385347433. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780385347440. F

Sullivan, J. Courtney. The Engagements. Knopf. Jun. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780307958716. $26.95. F

Tarttelin, Abigail. Golden Boy. Atria: S. & S. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781476705804. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476705835. F

Vickers, Salley. The Cleaner of Chartres. Viking. Jul. 2013. 304p. 9780670785674. $26.95. F

Waldman, Adelle. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Holt. Jun. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780805097450. $25. F

White, Patrick. The Hanging Garden. Picador. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781250028525. pap. $15. F

LAST-MINUTE SF/FANTASY

Armstrong, Kelley. Omens: A Cainsville Novel. Dutton. Aug. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780525953043. $26.95. FANTASY

SHORT STORIES

Barbash, Tom. Stay Up with Me. Ecco: HarperCollins. Sept. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780062258120. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062258366. F

Barrett, Andrea. Archangel. Norton. Aug. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780393240009. $24.95. F

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