A rare sequel that’s as much fun as the original.

DIRTY GIRLS ON TOP

The sucias are back in this follow-up to The Dirty Girls Social Club (2003).

Latina BFFs Usnavys, Lauren, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Sara and Cuicatl (the rock star formerly known as Amber) are in their mid-30s now, but they’re not particularly wiser, as becomes obvious during their annual girls’ getaway to New Mexico. Self-destructive journalist Lauren is battling her chronic bulimia while fighting the familiar sinking feeling that her man Amaury, a reformed gang member, is cheating on her. He is, with a 14-year-old. Plus-sized powerhouse Usnavys is married with a spirited young daughter, but her devoted husband Juan’s stay-at-home dad routine does nothing for her libido, leading her to seduce an African-American golf pro who falls hard for her charms. And one-time battered wife Sara might have built up her self esteem by hosting a popular Cuban cooking show, but the mere fact that she is even talking to her estranged husband Roberto (hiding in Argentina after killing their maid) is very bad news indeed. Other issues that the girls must deal with include fertility woes, racist in-laws and the awkward aftermath of a hot Sapphic interlude between two of them. Their misadventures take them back to where they first met, Boston, and the inevitable brush (or two) with death that helps them come to terms with what can and must change in their lives. Valdes-Rodriguez gives each of her diverse and far-from-perfect characters a psychological complexity that frequently rises above the soap-opera craziness, even if some of the narration is self-consciously overly descriptive.

A rare sequel that’s as much fun as the original.

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-34967-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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