An unexceptional if appealing debut in which a part-Chippewa woman recounts the experiences of three generations of her family. Aja shares with grandfather Peke a susceptibility to the Trickster, Wenebojo, who, according to legend, appears during deluges to play pranks and cause trouble. The story begins back near the turn of the century, when Peke, taking the train to college, finds himself in a dispute over a card game. He's thrown off a bridge into pouring rain, and Isabel, the Swedish girl who rescues him, becomes his wife. Years later, their coolly glamorous daughter Nina runs away to St. Paul, where Roy, a handsome Chippewa pilot, catches her eye. Their hopes for a better life are dashed, however, when Roy goes off to the Japanese front and comes home traumatized, refusing to be parted from his parachute; meanwhile, Nina can gain entrance to the big houses she dreams of only by working as a cleaning woman. After Roy is sent to Korea, Nina takes their daughter, Aja, back to the reservation in Minnesota, where she grows up ashamed of her background. She also resents the attention given to her brilliant but difficult brother Jerry, and she fights with her father's sister, Betty, who runs a roadside diner that for Aja represents embarrassing reservation backwardness. Trying to escape, she attends Dartmouth, only to find herself disgusted by her patrician classmates and lured into a stormy marriage with a boy from back home. The birth of a child, the death of her grandmother, and her decision to open a school for Chippewa children eventually enable Aja to come to terms with her heritage, and, taking pleasure in the traditional stories Peke taught her as a child, she shares her culture with the Jewish lawyer who becomes her second husband. While Strong adds few fresh touches to this standard intergenerational saga, her graceful prose and affection for Chippewa lore make for a lively, involving tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-517-70621-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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