The author of Grace Point (1992) here crafts an exquisite novel of suspense and redemption. After a transient childhood with a single mother, Soleil has created an orderly life in her humble but cozy Boston apartment and her job as a museum librarian. Now, in September 1993, her aged mother lies unconscious after a stroke. Soleil starts losing sleep at night, which makes her the perfect, if reluctant, candidate for Dreamscape, an exhibit at the museum that requires her to sleep on display as her brain waves are translated into a light show and musical composition. The scientist monitoring her sleep patterns happens to be Soleil's former lover, Andy, who becomes alarmed by her unusually lengthy dream stages. In fact, she is not dreaming but time traveling to rural Fortune Groves, Ohio, in the summer of 1932. There she observes Shoe, a girl who has been horribly disfigured in an accident, lost both her parents, and been separated from her beloved brother, Thomas. Now Shoe is being stalked by the town mogul, whose terrible secret she knows. Back in modern-day Boston, Soleil's midwestern-born mother has shown some response listening to stories of her dreams, and Soleil is in danger from the Sweetheart Strangler, a serial killer whose progress she follows casually in the newspapers. Graced by LeClaire's compassion, the mechanism of time travel never becomes too far-fetched, but instead creates the opportunity for readers to be moved by the heartaches of Soleil and Shoe and by the healing they achieve through their encounters. LeClaire imbues her characters with such dignity that no situation into which they fall seems absurd. She transcends science fiction and suspense genre elements to craft a story of gentle souls who attain enlightenment. The only disappointment is Soleil's relationship with Andy, strictly a dime-store romance. Surprisingly stirring.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-670-84328-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1994

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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

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