"An exciting tale of past crimes and dangerous friendships."– Kirkus Reviews
A Jewish woman from Manhattan takes a chance on love with a Hispanic doctor from New Mexico and confronts cultural and geographic differences in novelist Reznik’s (The Girl from Long Guyland, 2012) sequel.
It’s 1977, and 28-year-old Laila Levin has a successful career as a sociologist studying teen pregnancy. Still, her mother isn’t happy that Laila isn’t married—or even seriously dating. But although Laila’s not looking for love, she stumbles into a relationship with physician Eduardo Quintana. Almost immediately, he invites her to move with him to his hometown of Espanola, New Mexico. Laila accepts, transplanting her life and career out of the big city. However, adjusting to small-town New Mexico life is hardly the worst of her troubles, as she faces anti-Semitic hostility from Eduardo’s mother and added pressure from the fact that Eduardo’s high school sweetheart is back in town. Meanwhile, a stalker is determined to make Laila the girl of his dreams. Reznik draws on some elements of her real life in this novel, and the humorous details of Jewish and Hispanic family life ring true, offered with a smattering of Yiddish and Spanish dialogue. The author tells a simple love story, but she structures the novel to provide a panoramic view of her characters. This is her second book featuring Laila as a protagonist, who tells the story from a first-person point of view in some parts. But other sections, in the third person, follow Eduardo, Eduardo’s mother and ex-girlfriend, and even Laila’s stalker. Although the jumps between perspectives are sometimes jarring, this technique allows Reznik to add depth and motivation to secondary characters. She also stays true to her theme of overcoming cultural differences. Overall, the story is well-paced, with scenes of excitement and danger. However, it’s also full of coincidences and conflicts that are too easily resolved, and the prose is often unimpressive: “Should I break it off with him? Avoid the inevitable hurt when he left? The decision was agonizing.”
An engaging, if unevenly executed, cross-cultural romance.
A troubled kid learns valuable lessons about love, honor and friendship during the home-run race of 1961.
Marshall Elliot’s summer is off to a great start. He’s earned a spot on the Flushing Little League All-Star roster; he’s caught the eye of the prettiest girl in town; and he’s just learned that his new next-door neighbors are none other than Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, the hard-hitting Yankees duo who are duking it out to beat Babe Ruth’s long-standing record of 60 home runs in one season. But before long, the dream summer starts to fall apart. Marshall can’t tell a soul about the Yankees’ hideout in Queens; his parents’ marriage starts to unravel; and soon it seems that even his own fledgling baseball career may be over before it starts. The story uses alternating first-person narratives from the perspectives of Maris, Mantle, Marshall and “fixer” Julius “Big Julie” Isaacson. Reznik (The Girl from Long Guyland, 2012) explains that the book is derived from an original screenplay she wrote in 1999 that never made it to film, and so it’s unsurprising that the characters are painted with broad cinematic strokes. Marshall is an innocent, his father’s a cad, his mother’s a fragile angel; there’s also little here to complicate the personalities of Maris (a Boy Scout and a family man) and Mantle (a pained, boozing womanizer) as they have been annealed by history. Still, there’s a reason why such tropes work for movies, and they are effective in the book, as well. Just as you’re rolling your eyes over a hackneyed plotline or two (an episode in Binghamton is excessively Dickensian) and predictable character development (he’s a gentle giant with a heart of gold!), you find yourself sucker punched by a closing sequence that tear-jerkingly fulfills the wishes of every kid who has ever had a hero, played a sport, had a crush or fought with a parent. The novel of course targets baseball fans (and especially Yankees fans), but like the best of the genre, there’s a baseball-as-metaphor-for-life theme here to which few readers will be immune.
Just like its heroes, what this book lacks in sophistication it makes up for in heart; a warm, enjoyable baseball story.
In Reznik’s debut novel, a woman confronts long-buried secrets when an old college friend commits suicide.
Laila Levin, a Long Island expatriate living in Texas, is struggling to keep her high-powered job when she receives unsettling news: her college roommate, whom she hasn’t seen in years, has killed herself. Laila recalls her wild college days in Bridgeport, Conn., during the late 1960s, a time when she shook off the expectations of her provincial parents and ventured into a fast-paced world of sex and drugs. Laila and a tight group of college friends bonded over their shared hatred of the Vietnam War and their love of a good time. Carefree Laila eventually found herself entangled with two mysterious men, which led to a scandalous story of deception, betrayal and, ultimately, tragedy. She left Bridgeport behind, switching schools and, later, getting married—without telling her husband about the scandal that occurred. However, when she learns of her friend’s suicide, she finds that she can’t escape her past: Due to her friend’s incriminating suicide note, she stands to lose the life she has created. In this fast-paced and intriguing novel, Laila’s secrets and lies unfold slowly and tantalizingly, with sudden surprises and perplexing clues scattered throughout. Although readers may occasionally find the writing pedestrian and the characters flat, they will find the plot intense and compelling. While effective as a page turner, the novel also tells a timeless, universal tale of a woman’s journey toward self-acceptance.
An exciting tale of past crimes and dangerous friendships.