A poignant, nuanced tale of familial pain and renewal.

REPENTANCE

A Japanese-American doctor discovers his estranged father’s role in World War II—and a long-guarded family secret.

Daniel Tokunaga is the chief of cardiothoracic surgery at a major hospital in Philadelphia, known for his talent and ambition. He receives an unexpected call from his father, Ray—they haven’t spoken in years—informing him that his mother, Keiko, was in a car accident and that she’s been rushed to a Los Angeles hospital. Daniel jumps on a plane to California, and after he arrives, he’s startled by a series of peculiar revelations. It turns out that his father was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary valor in France while serving with the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit of Japanese-American soldiers in the Second World War. Daniel also learns that the U.S. Department of Defense has been calling his father repeatedly to discuss that medal—but that he’s been mysteriously reluctant to talk about it. Lam (Two Sons of China, 2016, etc.) artfully unravels the Tokunaga family’s skein of secrets, and in the process, he reveals the many difficulties that Japanese-Americans faced during the war. For example, Keiko spent three years at a detainment camp while her husband risked his life for his country; at another point, Daniel’s father objects to the girl whom he wants to marry, partly because her father was born in Japan and fought on that country’s side. Lam’s prose is always clear, and at its best, it achieves poetically elegiac notes: “The house was a time capsule. A grave, he thought….Inside, the distant pulsation of the cicadas felt far away. Inside, time had died—life gone elsewhere. Even the past had passed on.” Readers will be moved by Daniel’s plight as he desperately tries to understand a father for whom he still harbors profound resentment.

A poignant, nuanced tale of familial pain and renewal.

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946501-12-7

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Tiny Fox Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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