WILD EMBERS

No wild embers in this tearjerker about breaking color barriers during WW II. Bunkley (Black Gold, 1994) writes with a stiff dignity that's better at detailing social history than sparking drama. Janelle Roy has everything going for her. Young, bright, and pretty, she's got a good job as the private-duty nurse for a wealthy white woman in Columbus, Ohio. She seems well on her way to the privileged future she has mapped out for herself, with little care for the problems of her race. But all her plans are smashed when her patient dies, and Janelle is accused of neglecting her duty. When she can't find another nursing job, Janelle enlists in the Army Nurse Corps, stationed in Tuskegee, Ala., which is admitting a small number of black personnel. Meanwhile, Janelle's younger brother Perry is helping the NAACP to integrate defense plants. Angry and alienated, he hates the idea of a segregated army. When he's drafted, he's sent to a camp in Louisiana, where the fact that he's eating C-rations while German POWs are fed hot meals enrages him so much that he looses his poise, commits a horrible act, and suffers a harsh end. Janelle, however, thrives in the army. She falls in love with a handsome officer, one of the first black pilots to fly combat missions. She even has her consciousness raised: When an injury sidelines her, she helps to integrate a defense plant. She gets some lectures in stiff-upper- lip resolve, as well. ``Nobody said it was going to be fair,'' a nurse tells her. ``You're not the first woman in love who has had to watch her sweetheart go off to war. You're Army! You're a part of this great big machine, so pull yourself together.'' The war against segregation on the home front, hobbled by bad prose and melodramatic chestnuts. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-525-93753-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1994

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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