FICTION

Nicotine

Ecco: HarperCollins. Oct. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9780062441706. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062441720. F
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The day after her father dies, Penny Baker is evicted. A shaman whose "Last Resort" clinic in Brazil eased wealthy clients through their final hours in a haze of herbal supplements and native ritual, Norman Baker ironically suffered the American way of death, with tubes and transfusions in a Manhattan hospital bed. To Penny's mother, Amalia, Norm's passing is a nuisance; to her half-brothers, Matt and Patrick, it's a potential business venture. But for Penny, who cared for him at the end, it's the loss of her North Star. Just out of college, jobless, and homeless, Penny buses out to Jersey City in search of her grandparents' abandoned house, where she discovers a thriving community of disparate squatters and a place that feels like home. Penny's dilemma? How can she embrace the causes of her anarchist friends, remain loyal to her dad's memory, and become a wage-earning adult?
VERDICT Zink, whose novel Mislaid entered the literary scene amid effusive praise, writes with tongue firmly in cheek. Her jaded worldview, leavened by a well-honed sense of the absurd, reveals itself as she skewers millennials and boomers alike for failing to live up to their once tightly held convictions. [See Prepub Alert, 4/18/16.]

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