PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"...covers a litany of grim realities in rural India: poverty, hunger, alcoholism, domestic violence, sexual assault and a caste system, to name a few. This might sound depressing, but Shroff manages to spin all of the above into a radically feel-good story about the murder of no-good husbands by a cast of unsinkable women ... The Bandit Queens\' quick pacing stems from Shroff’s reliance on rapid dialogue, which is sometimes clever, sometimes inane, but always succeeds in creating the vibe of village gossip, with its volley of quips and comebacks ... Occasionally, the constant chatter feels misplaced...Overall, however, the characters’ stubborn levity and goofiness work well in a tale that demonstrates how the antidote to bleak circumstances is female friendship.\
PositiveThe New York TimesGutierrez’s story encompasses a global recession, the devaluation of the peso, a devastating earthquake in Mexico City and the 1986 World Cup. By slipping back and forth across borders, alternating between Spanish and English and different points of view, Gutierrez creates the impression of lines easily crossed. The extent to which readers understand Lore’s decision to commit to two men and two families will act as a sort of personality test: How open-minded, how forgiving, how morally pliable are you? I can hear the book club discussions now ... While Gutierrez’s attempt to draw a parallel between Cassie and Duke’s relationship and that of Lore and her first husband, Fabian, feels tenuous, each woman’s desire to be known and understood is undeniably powerful ... And, really, isn’t that one of fiction’s most critical functions — not to make us agree, but to strengthen our empathy muscles?
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... a thoughtful exploration of the rippling impact of early trauma, perfect for true-crime aficionados and fans of Law & Order: SVU who find themselves eager to challenge the genre’s laser focus on perpetrator psychology over victimology ... If Anna’s own circumstances sound like a lot to keep track of, that’s because they are. A glut of names, places and time periods occasionally had me mentally scurrying to play catch-up, but ultimately didn’t distract from my desire to find out whodunit. Hang in there ... McLain is unflinching in her insistence that the study of the girls’ psyches is just as important to an investigation as profiling the bad guy ... Fair warning: Some readers may find this line of inquiry uncomfortable. But maybe that’s the point. Trauma, while hard to look at, does turn insidious when allowed to fester in the dark, unseen ... McLain’s prose is almost lyrical, especially when she turns to the untamed landscape of coastal California. But when it comes to descriptions of death, assault and abuse, she writes with measured restraint, a choice that forces the reader to accept these horrific events as grim reflections of our real world rather than gratuitous story machinations. In fact, McLain intentionally blurs the line between fact and fiction by braiding actual missing persons cases into the narrative, a touch that promptly sent me down several internet rabbit holes ... As Anna tries to find out what happened to Cameron and the other girls, her willingness to consider the mystical brings interesting texture to an otherwise grounded detective novel. It’s sort of like tasting a secret ingredient in a recipe and not quite being able to place it. McLain introduces a psychic and invokes intuition and predestination as valid guiding lights for her characters ... After a gut punch that reveals what sent Anna up the coast, McLain puts her heroine in mortal peril to deliver the kind of heart-pounding conclusion that thriller fans crave. As a bonus, avid readers of the genre will be pleased to find they’ve picked up several kernels of intellectual nourishment along the way. In the end, a book full of darkness lands with a message of hope: Instigators of trauma don’t always have the last word.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe polyphonic narrative structure feels suitable for a novel that draws heavily on musical composition, particularly Bach’s fugues, which Wasserman adeptly uses to illustrate the tractile nature of memory. And though the middle of the book requires some patience, there are plenty of philosophical threads to tease out and ponder along the way ... The lives of the four narrators—Lizzie, Wendy, Alice and Elizabeth—intersect to reveal one big, satisfying secret ... Wasserman’s ability to weave big ideas seamlessly into plot is impressive. The result is a warning against the dangers of letting others warp our identities while remaining cleareyed about the importance and inescapability of human connection ... Wasserman...leaves readers with the feeling that erosion of self is a fate worth fearing.