PositiveLambda Literary... compelling ... Masad cleverly manipulates the gap between what Maggie misunderstands and what the reader, through Iris, learns. The past can be reshaped, Masad demonstrates, and our understanding of it changes through experience and discovery ... Masad captures the competitive push and pull between love and rebellion that defines mother-daughter relationships ... With warmth, empathy, and intelligence, Masad explores how grief transforms us ... Like many first novels, the book has a few shortcomings. The novel often over-explains plot details and includes too much exposition. The ending, a reversal, is too neat to be fully satisfying. And Peter, Maggie’s father, lacks dimension because he has no flaws ... Despite these minor issues, the novel offers readers a nuanced, fully realized protagonist struggling to come to terms with death, her transition to adulthood, and the leap of faith required to let people in.
RaveLambda LiteraryMartha Ackmann’s new book...conjures up its own immersive spell. The book vividly recreates the texture of Dickinson’s beautiful, everyday world and the key events that shaped her complex and rebellious interior life ... Ackmann paints a living, breathing portrait of Dickinson ... Ackmann is an able and enthusiastic guide, and her passion and fascination energize the narrative ... Ackmann used the novelist’s tools—description, dialogue, and narration—to produce powerful vignettes ... It’s an impressive feat of accumulation and organization that contains many gems, like a scene in which Dickinson staged a dramatic solo reading of Shakespeare in her attic. Ackmann’s observations are often beautifully rendered. Her style is sensory, relaxed, generous with detail and description, empathetic, and explanatory.