Fabulous Fiction Firsts #708, Embracing Second Chances
Sat, 05/25/2019 - 6:43pm by muffy
Picked as one of 9 Books Not to Judge by Their Covers, There's a Word for That * is the first book for adults by YA author Sloane Tanen. “The novel's title refers to German words that express concepts that take a whole sentence to convey in English, like Verschlimmbessern (to make matters worse in the process of trying to improve them) and Schnapsidee (a plan so stupid, it must have come from a drunken mind), and others make up the five sections of the book.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Retired film producer Marty Kessler, addicted to opioids, man-handled by his latest girlfriend Gail, is running through his life savings at an alarming rate while still supporting his daughters Janine and Amanda and her twins, Hailey and Jaycee. 41 year-old Janine, a former child star is struggling to make a life for herself. Recently divorced Amanda, a high school drama teacher worries about her girls’ future.
On the other side of the pond, celebrated novelist Bunny Small is self-medicating for a severe writer’s block and estrangement from her only son Henry. Unbeknownst to the family, Marty and Bunny were once married. Their reunion at Directions, a ritzy Malibu rehab center, will bring these two wildly flawed families together, for better or for worse.
“With equal parts humor and empathy, Tanen's first novel for adults employs multiple narrators and a skillfully drawn cross-generational family to examine how relatives impact one another… For readers who miss The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg (2012) and the Lamberts from Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (2001).” (Booklist)
* = Starred review
It is 1968, Tom Hope, a cash-strapped sheep farmer is hired to do some carpentry work for Hannah Babel, a recent immigrant and Holocaust survivor, determined to open the first bookstore in town. Trudy, Tom’s unstable wife, left him again but this time taking with her Peter, her son that Tom has raised as his own, to join a Jesus camp. Sophisticated, colorful, charismatic and haunted, Hannah lost her entire family at Auschwitz, including her young son and vowed never to love another child again. Despite the vast age difference, attraction between Tom and Hannah is mutual and they soon marry. But when a horrific act of violence sends Peter back to Tom, Hannah has a difficult decision to make.
“The openness of the Australian countryside is an apt setting for a complex exploration of grief, faith, and restoration, and in poignant, meditative, and stirring prose Hillman tells a heartrending and heartwarming tale of love and sacrifice.” (Booklist)