Hall (Waiting for the Flood, 2015, etc.) takes 10,000 geeky inside jokes and weaves them together with the challenges facing...

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LOOKING FOR GROUP

A young gamer meets the girl of his dreams in a massively multiplayer online game and is surprisingly OK with the discovery that the hot dark elf is a guy IRL.

Drew lives in two different worlds: The Real World, where he’s studying to be a game designer; and “Heroes of Legend,” where he and his avatar, Orcarella, have just joined a new gaming guild. He’s got friends in the real world, but he’d rather hang out with the Guild—particularly Solace, a beautiful healer he finds himself going on separate quests with and having plenty of late-night chats with, too. But now he’s in a crisis. Turns out Solace, his dream girl, isn’t actually a girl. Does Drew like guys? Or just this one? Or even this one? When he finally meets Kit in person, Drew is surprised by how OK he is with the fact that he's a man. The spark they discovered in “Heroes of Legend” is still there, and they're both willing to pursue it. As they fall deeper into a relationship that alternates between making out and playing video games, an intervention by Drew's IRL friends makes him wonder if he's too attached, both to Kit and the game. What starts out as a dense, vaguely tedious online gaming transcript evolves into a deeply real consideration of the ways people choose to pursue their passions and live their lives and people’s perceptions of those ways. The first chapter has the potential to lose marginally interested nongamers, but holding on drops the reader into the mind of Drew, who is at times incredibly well-adjusted and at others completely hopeless—in other words, a pretty authentic college student.

Hall (Waiting for the Flood, 2015, etc.) takes 10,000 geeky inside jokes and weaves them together with the challenges facing young people, whether they're nerdy or not, including game/life balance, understanding different kinds of friendship, and all the stops and starts of coming into yourself.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62649-446-6

Page Count: 345

Publisher: Riptide

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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