Witty but slight.




In this Christmas-themed novel from Valdes-Rodriquez (The Husband Habit, 2009, etc.), a newly single interior designer tests the tenets of The Rules on three potential mates.

Christy de la Cruz was shocked when her perfect husband, Zach, announced he was gay. Now divorced, Christy juggles her busy schedule as designer to Albuquerque’s rich and famous with the demands of her large, socio-economically disadvantaged but warm and outspoken Mexican-American clan. At a family pig roast in the barrio neighborhood where she grew up, Christy is challenged by her cousin Maggie to put Zach behind her—in addition to being gay, he’s an Anglo and an outsider. Maggie bets Christy that three dates each with three handsome homeboys who have made good will heal her broken heart. The caballeros in question, named after the Three Kings, are Balthazar, who bullied the once chubby Christy in grade school, Caspar, a wealthy music agent, and Melchior, a nationally known authority on chimpanzee behavior. To placate Maggie, and to alleviate her own guilt for not helping her relatives out financially, Christy takes the wager. Melchior is too wrapped up in his primates to appeal to her. She’s still resentful of Balthazar’s earlier bullying, and as a lowly high-school teacher, he’s not exactly prosperous. The most likely prospect is Caspar, who is in Christy’s income bracket and has the Beemer to prove it. She’s also powerfully attracted to him. Will she be able to resist his allure enough to feign indifference and to keep their three dates platonic, as dictated by The Rules? Will she come to realize that loyalty to her family sometimes demands generosity of more than spirit? Is there more to Balthazar than her suppositions about him, and less to Casper? The answers are predictable and clichéd. The chief pleasures, besides descriptions of outfits, food and local color, lie in the banter between Christy and the other characters—and in the contrast between her Rules-dictated demureness and her unvoiced opinions.

Witty but slight.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-60533-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?