April May June July

In Alison B. Hart's beautifully crafted novel April May June July, the family's "Barber sadness" is a particular unhappiness born in tragedy: the disappearance of patriarch Frank Barber after he and three Iraqi associates were kidnapped in Iraq, where he worked as a civilian contractor.

Ten years after the kidnapping, his four children--April, May, June, and July--are unable to put aside hope that he may someday reappear. April throws herself into work and raising her children, but with a side of extramarital affairs. May disappears into herself, pulling away from friends and family alike. June remakes herself as Juniper, a star soccer player and rising coach, but struggles with alcohol. And July, the youngest and only son, tries to find his footing in college and his unrequited feelings for his roommate. But when April thinks she spots her father on a vacation in Dubrovnik, every hope--for Frank's life, yes, but even just for answers to the questions surrounding his disappearance--comes rushing back to the surface of their lives.

The Barber siblings' lives are each indelibly shaped by the politics of the United States' involvement in Iraq, despite living thousands of miles away. Hart invites readers to grapple with an understanding of the larger geopolitical forces at play, even as the siblings deal with their own individual grief, hope, and desperate search for answers. April May June July is part family saga, part missing persons case, part political thriller; a captivating and important novel that reveals just how personal the political is--and vice versa. --Kerry McHugh, freelance writer

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