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THE MOONSTONERS

From the Moon Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A gripping family story for those strong enough for the emotional journey.

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A novel presents a tale of tormented and damaged characters against the backdrop of the turbulent 1960s.

The story revolves—no, churns—around Noël Trudeau, whom readers first meet as a youngster while her family is fleeing north from Hyssop, Louisiana, in the dead of night. Something truly horrible has happened, something that will remain secret for some 200 pages (this is a book of secrets). Then readers find Noël in Langston, Indiana, where she and her toddler son, Adam, have escaped a marriage to a brutal abuser and where young Ricky Ziemny is hopelessly in love with her. She begins timorously to allow the possibility of romance, but it is Ricky’s brother, Leon, whom she falls in love with and marries. The union is tempestuous: The Trudeaus are leery of Leon, the Ziemnys of Noël. Meanwhile—these are just the high (or low) points—her oldest brother is killed in Vietnam and her younger brother, Adam, who dreamed of becoming a surgeon, returns minus an arm. There are suicides, a mental breakdown, and screaming confrontations (especially as the long-held secrets come spilling out). An apothegm from Pascal sets the tone: “When one does not love too much, one does not love enough.” This sets the stage for Noël’s final musing on two kinds of love: “The love you could live with, and the love you couldn’t live without.” Given these truths, the characters are whipsawed big-time. Dzikowski (Searching for Lincoln’s Ghost, 2011) is a passionate writer and her background in counseling has likely contributed much to her prose and outlook. But one needn’t be a Pollyanna to sometimes shout: “Enough already! Enough trauma, enough heartbreak!” On the other hand, one cannot deny the real power of the book. Readers will be drawn into caring deeply about these terribly tortured characters and bracing for the next inevitable tragic turn. This is the first volume of a trilogy; may the sequels bring a measure of relief.

A gripping family story for those strong enough for the emotional journey.

Pub Date: July 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9840305-3-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wiara Books

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2019

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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THE RUMOR

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Hilderbrand’s latest cautionary tale exposes the toxic—and hilarious—impact of gossip on even the most sophisticated of islands.

Eddie and Grace Pancik are known for their beautiful Nantucket home and grounds, financed with the profits from Eddie’s thriving real estate company (thriving before the crash of 2008, that is). Grace raises pedigreed hens and, with the help of hunky landscape architect Benton Coe, has achieved a lush paradise of fowl-friendly foliage. The Panciks’ teenage girls, Allegra and Hope, suffer invidious comparisons of their looks and sex appeal, although they're identical twins. The Panciks’ friends the Llewellyns (Madeline, a blocked novelist, and her airline-pilot husband, Trevor) invested $50,000, the lion’s share of Madeline’s last advance, in Eddie’s latest development. But Madeline, hard-pressed to come up with catalog copy, much less a new novel, is living in increasingly straightened circumstances, at least by Nantucket standards: she can only afford $2,000 per month on the apartment she rents in desperate hope that “a room of her own” will prime the creative pump. Construction on Eddie’s spec houses has stalled, thanks to the aforementioned crash. Grace, who has been nursing a crush on Benton for some time, gives in and a torrid affair ensues, which she ill-advisedly confides to Madeline after too many glasses of Screaming Eagle. With her agent and publisher dropping dire hints about clawing back her advance and Eddie “temporarily” unable to return the 50K, what’s a writer to do but to appropriate Grace’s adultery as fictional fodder? When Eddie is seen entering her apartment (to ask why she rented from a rival realtor), rumors spread about him and Madeline, and after the rival realtor sneaks a look at Madeline’s rough draft (which New York is hotly anticipating as “the Playboy Channel meets HGTV”), the island threatens to implode with prurient snark. No one is spared, not even Hilderbrand herself, “that other Nantucket novelist,” nor this magazine, “the notoriously cranky Kirkus.”

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-33452-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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