Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Hoffman is a journalist who has reported on rural and Rust Belt poverty, environmental politics, and violence and adolescents. The theme of her first novel is innocence lost and idealism gone wrong. The story focuses on Alice Piper, the precocious daughter of two doctors who leave the big city to work in upstate New York. In the rundown little town of Haeden, things are never what they seem, as the tone of the novel grows more sinister and a young woman disappears. As a psychological thriller, the novel could benefit from being more streamlined in the early chapters. The constant jumping between past and present and various points of view feels too choppy. But the pace quickens as Hoffman brings the story to its dark and chilling conclusion. VERDICT This gripping novel asks readers to judge whether a horrible crime can ever justify a terrible act of revenge. It will engage individuals and book groups interested in debating this tough topic.-Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In this remarkable debut, Hoffman addresses serious injustices in present-day America. In 1992, Claire and Gene Piper, both idealistic New York City physicians, eschew joining Doctors Without Borders and decide instead to move with their gifted two-year-old daughter, Alice, to upstate Haeden, N.Y., to pursue the simple life in the spirit of the '60s back-to-nature movement. After nearly two fruitless decades, Gene's hope of destroying corporate agribusiness in the name of "land and air and autonomy" has left Claire exhausted, in body and soul, and Alice determined to avenge a ghastly crime against all women that she realizes is implicit in Haeden's smalltown-ghost town mentality. Meanwhile, journalist Stacy Flynn indicts Big Pharm for forcing scientists to manipulate people into doing things the scientists believe are wrong, and factory food production for repurposing the countryside into a toxic-waste site. Hoffman's doomed characters burn their way off her angry pages. This searing novel will linger long in the reader's memory. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A mixture of The Lovely Bones and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hoffman's first novel is a small-town murder mystery with a surprising twist. Haeden, New York, leaves much to be desired for Flynn, the young reporter covering the community beat. But when Wendy White, the local bar maid, goes missing, and Flynn begins uncovering some disturbing local secrets, things get very interesting. Meanwhile, high-school student Alice Piper is facing her own challenges. She's smart, creative, and quickly outgrowing the small-town mentality of Haeden. Her family encourages her feisty spirit, and her best friend, Theo, is her accomplice in more ways than one. Hoffman's narrative oscillates between various characters, carefully building suspense, depth, and new insight with every chapter. Let's hope we will be seeing more of this talented new writer.--Paulson, Heather Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Hoffman's debut novel takes readers to the unsexy world of rural New York and a farming community with more than one secret.Stacy Flynn is a reporter covering the tiny town of Haeden. Flynn is on the prowl for the story that will make her name in the field of investigative journalism, and she's decided that Haeden and its acres of dairy farms are just the ticket to an award. Flynn writes and edits the local paper, but she's not a Haeden native. Instead, she moved from Cleveland to take over the town rag, covering football games and pancake breakfasts under the occasional eye of the former editor. But when the body of a waitress and local favorite, Wendy White, turns up, Flynn bites into the story like a starving dog. Something is very wrong with the way the police and the town are treating White's murder, and she's not the only one who thinks that way. But there's another case, a more recent one, and that one really weighs on Flynn's mind. It centers on the most unlikely family imaginable: a pair of disaffected doctors turned hippies and their brilliant little girl, Alice. Unhappy with the way their lives were going in New York City, the Piper family moved to Haeden when Claire and Gene left medicine. Gene, Alice's father, also believes, as does Flynn, that the dairy business is poisoning the water and land for miles around. Told from Gene's, Alice's and Flynn's perspectives, along with those of many others, including the dead girl's, Hoffman's book rotates points of view every couple of pages. Although mostly well written, the story devolves into some snooze-worthy prose, particularly sections detailing agricultural practices and Alice's essays. The author tells the reader over and over that the women in this story are strong and, in the end, she proves it.Hoffman wanders into the cow pasture a little too often, but the intersection of the lives of two smart young women with a shared consciousness turns what could have been a boring tale into something worth reading.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.