By Jennifer DuBois
(The Dial Press, $26)
Harvard grad Irina Ellison is 30 years old and facing certain death. Diagnosed with the same debilitating disease that killed her father, she has given up on a future. In her father’s files, she discovers a letter written to his hero, Soviet chess champ Aleksandr Bezetov, asking how one can proceed when all hope is lost. Irina packs up her life in the U.S. and flies to Russia on a journey that she hopes will reveal Bezetov’s answer. Author Jennifer DuBois’ heart-wrenching debut novel is an adept study in lost causes, wending its way through Irina’s childhood and present struggle and Aleksandr’s own political demons.