A well-pitched, beautifully written book, dark in content but not in feel.

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LIFELINE

A teenager battles drug addiction in Nash’s debut novel.

Eighteen-year-old Eli is at a high point in his life. He’s captain of the lacrosse team, the most popular kid in his school, and has a picture-perfect girlfriend by his side. Yet, even as the first game of the season moves toward triumph, all is not well: the thrill never lasts; the high is not real. Eli lives with his mom, stepdad, and half brother, but he’s long been unhappy at home, and he’s been turning to heroin as a way to cope. An overdose lands him in rehab—and then the real story begins. Over 28 days, Eli must confront his addiction and come to terms with the loss of his father. Although he’s unwilling, at first, to acknowledge that he even has a problem, he slowly, through interactions with an ex–drug-dealer counselor and the other patients at the clinic, begins to open up. He starts looking for the truth in his life, and as he finds himself strangely drawn to a girl who self-harms, he wonders if there might just be some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. The danger with a story such as Eli’s is that it can be overly grim or preachy. Nash avoids this and instead strikes just the right balance between realism and relatability. The plot is straightforward but not generic, and the characters are distinct without being clichéd or over-the-top. The dialogue never feels artificial, and Eli’s narration, written in the present-tense first-person, makes him a protagonist that teens will identify with. His take on life seems very much his own (not the author’s or the readers’ parents’), and events at the clinic play out with a momentum that reflects his increasing engagement with rehabilitation. Nash, in short, has pulled off a remarkable feat, taking a topic of great relevance and—without a hint of censure or denunciation—making it integral to a tale whose only demand is that it be read in one sitting.

A well-pitched, beautifully written book, dark in content but not in feel.

Pub Date: April 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946501-06-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: Tiny Fox Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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