Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

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The Ice House

In The Ice House, her second novel, Laura Lee Smith (Heart of Palm) weaves another intricate, heartfelt tale of a family pushed to its extremities by tragedy and drawn close by newfound resilience.

Johnny and Pauline MacKinnon are in a tough spot. They've spent the last few years avoiding the topic of Johnny's estranged son, Corran, whom Johnny disavowed after years of heroin relapses. They are also facing the closure of their Florida ice factory due to a gas leak. To make matters worse, Johnny may have a brain tumor and must undergo surgery in a few weeks. He decides to return to Scotland to end the silence between him and his son and to meet his newborn granddaughter, but his plan is soon derailed by another tragedy. Meanwhile, Pauline faces her own moral and emotional struggles on the home front.

Like most of Smith's characters, Johnny, Pauline and their supporting cast are delicately constructed, a testament to Smith's rich perception. While the bulk of this novel, like her first, focuses on the steamy, hidden complexities of Florida life, Smith has now widened her canvas to include Scotland and the transatlantic complications of generational identity. She crafts each setting with specificity and care, balancing these outwardly opposite atmospheres with ease and grace. Despite its seemingly simple prose style, The Ice House's complex characters, settings and subplots pack an emotional punch that is sure to impress readers with its insight and heft. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor