Fiction Reviews | February 1, 2014

redstarCassella, Carol. Gemini. S. & S. Mar. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781451627930. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451627954. F

Gemini021314Intensive care doctor Charlotte Reese is on duty in Seattle’s Beacon Hospital when a hit-and-run victim, a middle-aged woman, is delivered by helicopter from Olympia ­Island. Charlotte expertly assesses the unconscious woman’s injuries, which include a very broken body and high probability of brain damage. After stabilizing the patient, Charlotte attempts to address the multiple injuries in an effort to keep this Jane Doe alive until either she can speak for herself or some next of kin appears to identify her. Meanwhile, in Charlotte’s personal life, her boyfriend Eric, a science reporter, clearly adores Charlotte but inexplicably appears unable to take their relationship forward to commitment and parenthood. Alternating chapters chronicle Charlotte’s life and the story of a country girl named Raney, who falls in love with a city boy named Bo. The book prompts many questions: Who is Jane Doe? Why has no one come forward to identify her? How long can Charlotte keep this patient alive before an appointed guardian decides that it would be in the woman’s best interests to let her die? How do the stories of Charlotte and Raney intersect? VERDICT Informed by her work as a doctor, Casella’s third medical novel (after Oxygen and Healer) poses interesting medical questions and offers deepening mysteries to keep the reader turning the pages. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/13.]—Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC

redstarGay, Roxane. An Untamed State. Black Cat: Grove Atlantic. May 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780802122513. pap. $17. F

anuntamedstate021314What happens after you have been kidnapped, beaten, raped, and humiliated by a gang of armed men while your extremely wealthy father holds on to his “principles” and refuses to pay the ransom to ensure your swift release? That is the subject of this much-anticipated debut novel from Gay, already celebrated for her short stories. Mireille Jameson endures this horrific situation when she visits her impoverished homeland of Haiti with her American husband, Michael, and their young son. Led by the Commander, the kidnappers torment Mireille for her privileged life as she tries to remain unbroken. It is not until she returns to Miami that the experience truly haunts her. She becomes erratic, preferring instability over home and family. As Michael pulls away, Mireille’s mother-in-law offers her comfort through a recovery fraught with insecurity, guilt, and un­certainty. VERDICT Gay brilliantly writes of the story’s external events while skillfully capturing Mireille’s internal anguish. Not since Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The ­Yellow Wallpaper has an author so effectively captured the descent into mental instability. This novel is recommended for lovers of literary and Caribbean fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 11/22/13.]—Ashanti White, Yelm, WA

redstarHoffman, Cara. Be Safe I Love You. S. & S. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781451641318. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451641332. F

Lauren Clay returns from a tour of duty in Iraq to besafeiloveyou021314her small, dead-end upstate New York town on Christmas Day. A gifted singer, she had given up a full scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in order to enlist. Practically a mother to her beloved younger brother since their mother abandoned the family years earlier and with a father incapacitated by depression, Lauren single-handedly supports her small family. Hoffman (So Much Pretty) opens the novel with an ominous prolog that creates a mild sense of dread that lasts until the final chapter, and she tells Lauren’s story in glimpses and through multiple viewpoints, which helps build suspense. It takes a long time for the reader to comprehend the true nature of Lauren’s emotional instability and the extent of her post-traumatic stress disorder, which is revealed in a trip with her brother that turns into something else.VERDICT Though Hoffman manages to incorporate comic elements, this is a searing, unforgettable, and beautifully written tale about the corrosive effects of war on the psyche, a contemporary version of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried with a female protagonist. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/13.]—Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Addison, Corban. The Garden of Burning Sand. Quercus. May 2014. 416p.

ISBN 9781623651299. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781623651305. F

Coupland, Douglas. Worst. Person. Ever. Blue Rider. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780399168437. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698151079. F

D’Aguiar, Fred. Children of Paradise. Harper. Feb. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062277329. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062277343. F

Davidson, Hilary. Blood Always Tells. Forge: Tor. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780765333544. $25.99. F

Dillen, Frederick. Beauty. S. & S. Mar. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781476716923. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781476716947. F

redstarDoerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See. Scribner. May 2014. 544p. ISBN 9781476746586. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781476746609. F

Duncan, Glen. By Blood We Live. Knopf. Feb. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780307595102. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350389. F

redstarDunmore, Helen. The Lie. Atlantic Monthly. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780802122544. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780802192547. F

Gifford, Elisabeth. The Sea House. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781250043344. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466841406. F

Glass, Julia. And the Dark Sacred Night. Pantheon. Apr. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780307377937. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908636. F

Gloss, Susan. Vintage. Morrow. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780062270320. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062270344. F

Grant, Katharine. Sedition. Holt. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780805099928. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780805099935 F

Gurnah, Abdulrazak. The Last Gift. Bloomsbury USA. Feb. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781620403280. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781620403297. F

Jones, Sadie. Fallout. Harper. Apr. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780062292810. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062292834. F

Kaysen, Susanna. Cambridge. Knopf. Mar. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780385350259. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350266. F

Khalifa, Khaled. In Praise of Hatred. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 320p. tr. from Arabic by Leri Price. ISBN 9781250052346. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466853898. F

Korelitz, Jean Hanff. You Should Have Known. Grand Central. Mar. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9781455599493. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455599509. F

Lane, Timothy S. Rules for Becoming a Legend. Viking. Mar. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780670014880. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101617762 F

Montanari, Richard. The Stolen Ones. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Feb. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780316244701. $29; ebk. ISBN 9780316244695. F

Quick, Matthew. The Good Luck of Right Now. Harper. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780062285539. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062285553. F

Rasmussen, Rebecca. Evergreen. Knopf. Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780385350990. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385351003. F

Rowland, Amy. The Transcriptionist. Algonquin. May 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781616202545. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616203962. F

Shaw, Johnny. Plaster City. Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. Apr. 2014. 334p. ISBN 9781477817582. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781477867587. F

Shipstead, Maggie. Astonish Me. Knopf. Apr. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780307962904. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307962911. F

Stace, Wesley. Wonderkid. Overlook. Mar. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781468308013. $26.95. F

redstarThomson, Rupert. Secrecy. Other. Apr. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9781590516850. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781590516867. F

Vandermerwe, Meg. Zebra Crossing. Oneworld. Apr. 2014. 216p. ISBN 9781780744308. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781780744315. F

Weisgarber, Ann. The Promise. Skyhorse. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781629142364. $24.95. F

redstarZevin, Gabrielle. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Algonquin. Apr. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781616203214. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616203948. F

Zimmerman, Jean. Savage Girl. Viking. Mar. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780670014859. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101616321. F

Short Stories

redstarGuterson, David. Problems with People: Stories. Knopf. Jun. 2014. 176p. ISBN 9780385351485. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385351492. F

Merkner, Christopher. The Rise & Fall of the Scandamerican Domestic: Stories. Coffee House. 2014. 228p. ISBN 9781566893381. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781566893442. F

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