An earnest but overlong story about philosophy, gay rights, and religion.

SNUCK PAST DEATH AND SLEEP

In Pierce’s debut novel, four students at a small Midwestern college join a philosophy club that organizes an explosive debate.

As the fall term begins at Wasserman College in 1987, four students arrive on campus, each harboring reservations about the experience. Eighteen-year-old Paul Jorkinn has indicated he’d prefer a gay roommate, and transfer student Edward Filkers has done the same. Lynn Ritchie, a lifelong resident of the town, registers for music classes despite the fact that she, like many other locals, never cared about the college very much. Occasional student Craig Loomis, having left his factory job, reregisters at Wasserman for one more go. Overseeing the students is administrator Amelia Rosser, who’s personally assigned Edward and Paul to the same room and is fully aware of the potentially controversial nature of that decision. The lengthy narrative stretches over more than 750 pages and revolves around the campus philosophy club, which takes the provocative step of organizing a campus debate regarding homosexuality and religious doctrine. Meanwhile, gay students, including Edward and Paul, push to form an activist gay and lesbian organization—a move that some other students view as radical. As the plans move forward, tensions rise on campus, and a new kind of activism leads to fears of unforeseen consequences. Over the course of Pierce’s epic-length novel, he does a fine job of characterizing university life in the late 1980s, including the intense bigotry toward gay people, which included violence. The various characters are well drawn, for the most part. However, there are also too many people with the surname Smith, which may lead to some confusion. The students’ philosophical discussions can also be rather lengthy, so that the writing starts to feel hazy, and the main thread of the plot gets lost. The impassioned conclusion is an effective one. However, a stronger edit would have trimmed the excess before it.

An earnest but overlong story about philosophy, gay rights, and religion.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2004

ISBN: 978-1-4140-1045-8

Page Count: 740

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 61

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more