It’s best to get the main conceit of Jessica Chiarella’s debut novel, And Again, out of the way: four people with terminal conditions win a lottery that entitles them to participate in what’s called the SUB program. This is a program where their bodies are cloned and when they reach the biological age of the participants—which happens after a few months—their memories are transplanted wholesale into the new bodies.
It’s good to know that a female protagonist doesn’t have to be “nice” in order to be compelling. In Cara Hoffman’s latest novel, Be Safe I Love You, returning Iraqi war vet Lauren Clay is anything but nice. Indeed, the reader might be tempted, at first, to call her hateful. But as you read on, it dawns on you that the Lauren who enlisted as a soldier because of the fat signing bonus that would keep the wolves away from the door of her impoverished family isn’t the Lauren who has returned. The word that kept going through this reviewer’s head was “revenant.”
If you’re very observant and know a little something about the wilder shores of human genetics, then you may be able to figure out the big mystery of Carol Cassella’s new novel by, oh, page 260 or so. Oh yes, the title also gives one a hint as to what’s going on with one of the book’s well-drawn characters. But we should start at the beginning.
usan Perabo's first novel, The Broken Places, poses the intriguing question of whether success and celebrity can be just as damaging as great failure and obscurity. The story is told through the eyes of Paul, the 12-year-old son of fireman Sonny and his beautiful, prickly schoolteacher wife Laura. When Ian Finch, one of the nastier kids from the local high school, gets trapped under a collapsed...