From Publishers Weekly
In this memorable debut, Callahan offers a uniquely funereal love story that focuses on a stagnant friendship-turned-untenable romance between unlikely life-long friends. To deal with the death of her immediate family, as well as the scars of childhood abuse, April assumes the role of the jaded wild child; Oliver, her once-inseparable childhood companion, has become her polar opposite, an engaged law student poised for success. Estranged during Oliver's college years, the two reconnect with troubling results. Callahan's descriptions are vivid, and often paired with charming flashbacks to more innocent times, providing stark contrast to the tumultuous course of April and Oliver's young-adult lives. Callahan's narrative takes some supporting-character detours from the principles' love-hate relationship, including an abusive boyfriend; a manipulative and dangerous family friend, and April's strong-but-slipping Nana. Callahan's poetic style and grasp of emotion gives proper weight to April's loss and Oliver's secrets, and is sure to engage, sadden, and enthrall readers, especially in a bittersweet, somewhat surprising finale.
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I'm sorry to report that since APRIL & OLIVER is Tess Callahan's debut as a novelist, an immediate regret awaits all readers on the last page of this enormously sagacious and compelling book, to wit: that it's done, finished, consumed; that there are as yet no other Callahan novels to devour, and heaven only knows how long we must wait for the author's next work to reach our greedy hands. The urgency of Callahan's narrative and its volatile juxtapositions--innocent passion and dark sexuality; duty and desire; first love and ruined love--make it impossible not to care deeply for these characters and their thwarted yearning and their heart-wrenching stories.
-Bob Shacochis, National Book Award-winning author of Easy in the Islands
Grappling fates are the DNA of suspense, and Tess Callahan braids loss, longing, romance and violence into a tense, gratifying narrative. The characters in APRIL & OLIVER feel inexorable--either destined or doomed to be together. The need to discover which--and how--keeps the reader turning pages.
-Sven Birkerts, author of Reading Life: Books for the Ages