A sad, soulful, and revelatory story about a deeply troubled nation in transition.

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The Color of our Sky

A haunting debut novel about two young women in Mumbai that brings the brutal realities of modern India into focus.

Trasi cleverly divides her tale into two narratives: in one that begins in 1986, readers follow young Mukta, the child of a prostitute, who seems doomed to eventually work in the sex trade herself. Thanks to her mother’s efforts, however, she instead becomes a foster child in an upper-class household. There, she meets Tara, a spirited young woman who’s never known poverty. The second narrative flashes forward to Tara as an adult in 2004, living in Los Angeles. She returns to India in order to find Mukta, who had been kidnapped 11 years earlier. Although the tandem timelines and alternating points of view could have potentially caused confusion, Trasi capably steers readers through each scene, developing both plotlines until they finally converge. For readers unfamiliar with the most populous city in India, the prose vividly re-creates everyday life there, but the most powerful aspect of Trasi’s book is its prince-and-the-pauper motif: the disparity between rich and poor is evident from the first chapters, and Mukta often seems resigned to a terrible fate, even after five years of comfort and safety in Tara’s family’s home. The descriptions and dialogue are rich and believable, particularly when Trasi writes from a child’s perspective (“my thoughts would race along with the wind, crossing our village, whistling through mountains, between boulders and rocks, ruffling the leaves on trees, flying with the birds”). The story also takes on difficult subject matter, such as child abuse, HIV, and early mortality, with unflinching seriousness. Even Tara’s interactions with the police demonstrate how chronic disorganization plagues Indian society, allowing countless youths to vanish into bordellos. The two main characters serve as symbols of the entire caste system, and Mukta’s memory of her dreary village consistently reminds readers how rigid and prosaic many ancient traditions can be. Although both main characters must contend with destiny—a recurring concept—the story makes clear that there may still be hope for their children. The story’s major twist is fairly predictable, and the finale somewhat melodramatic, but for readers familiar with the spiritual significance of the Ganges River, the final pages may still provoke tears.

A sad, soulful, and revelatory story about a deeply troubled nation in transition.

Pub Date: March 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0986155604

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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