In a book that is part tale, part confession, part scholarly analysis, Hong occasionally gets lost in the luxury of her own...

H & G

Gretel is all grown up but still lost in the wilderness of her own psychology in this acute and eerie reimagining of the classic fairy tale.

Hong's (Age of Glass, 2018) rendering of the iconic story includes all the familiar elements: A faithless father and wicked stepmother abandon two children in an enchanted wood, where they meet a hungry witch in her candy house. The traditional focal point of the story is when brave Gretel rescues her brother by pushing the witch into the oven, but—while the book deals with the grisly (and sticky) aftermath of the witch's demise in queasy detail—in this iteration the reader is directed to consider what comes next. H. and G. have returned home to their father's cottage and grown up. H., who "had always wanted to go home," who "wanted badly to believe that his Father loved him...that it was only temporary insanity that had made him pack his children off into the forest," has kept living the life that was meant for him before his abandonment. G., on the other hand, has remained the same girl "who had survived a great trial through remarkable grit, force, luck, and ruthless decisiveness" and has left home at the age of 10 with nothing but a small red box and her abbreviated name. Both H. and G. carry with them the laborious scars of their childhood, and Hong brings to bear her considerable formal talents as a poet as she explores the nuances of those scars. Told in the form of poems, lists, outlines, dreams, and endless, cyclical alternatives, the book pushes past the blueprint of the story's original framework and delves into the hazy realms of identity, memory, pain, and healing. Eventually, Hong comes to a specific and slippery truth about the societies we embed ourselves within: "Abundance and logic can cure everything but heartache and the drive to drown it or kill it."

In a book that is part tale, part confession, part scholarly analysis, Hong occasionally gets lost in the luxury of her own language. What remains, however, rises above a simple modernization to gleam as tantalizing and as strange as the wink of a pane of sugar glass glimpsed through the boughs of the deep, dark woods.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-940090-08-5

Page Count: 59

Publisher: Sidebrow Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more