An important, gripping story about facing change with curiosity, fear, love and, ultimately, acceptance.

Reinvented Lives

In Weissman’s poignant first novel, three adult sisters and their ailing mother struggle to reconcile their often divergent points of view.

The oldest Hoffman sister, Barbara, tries to re-establish her identity now that her children are grown and out of the house, while the middle sister, Rhonda, a single mother, raises two teenage boys—one of whom is headed down a potentially dangerous path. The youngest sibling, Ellen, lives her life as a single research scientist at the University of Iowa. In the book’s prologue, their 80-year-old mother, Rae, attempts to complete the basic tasks of getting out of the house and driving. Readers later learn that Rae suffers from “constricted capillary disease,” which causes her to experience dementia. When she gets into a car accident, she and her daughters are finally forced to confront her declining health and failing memory. Weissman subtly portrays how Rae’s deterioration affects all the sisters—in their individual lives and in their relationship to one another. When Rhonda takes Rae to live with her in Arizona, it raises the emotional stakes; Barbara and Ellen are concerned that Rhonda will take advantage of their mother financially, and Rhonda, in turn, is annoyed by her sisters’ mistrust as she becomes their mother’s primary caretaker. As Rae’s health declines, the three sisters keep circling one another in their efforts to communicate. At one point, Rae thinks, “The girls are angry with each other. I wonder why this time. I hoped they would get closer when they grew up, but it didn’t happen.” Toward the end of the novel, Rhonda wonders “whether our bond is strong enough to endure the loss of Mom, the glue.” Throughout, the sisters evolve as they find love, relocate and take care of their own families. Weissman’s direct, unsentimental prose provides each woman with a compelling, authentic perspective. She also deftly captures the mixture of denial and grief that parents and children feel when their roles are reversed.

An important, gripping story about facing change with curiosity, fear, love and, ultimately, acceptance. 

Pub Date: April 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482543148

Page Count: 376

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2013

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.


Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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