Berta’s (Friday Night Chicas, not reviewed) Latin-flavored chick-lit leaves no cliché unused.



A Latina’s hope for love and success is hampered by an obligation to look after her party-girl stepsisters.

For Cynthia “Cyn” Lopez, living and working with Ami and Lila Solas, her twin stepsisters, has lost its charms. Sure, the girls have a certain supermodel glamour and cool jobs as on-air veejays for RTV, a music television station, but these “Devil Divas” treat their sister like a glorified maid, demanding that she fetch lattes and clean up messes. The only reason Cyn, 24, actually tolerates these ugly-on-the-inside creatures is to honor the last wish of her dying father—that she keep the family together, at least until she turns 25. At that point Cyn will inherit the bulk of his fortune—provided her stepmother doesn’t spend it all. Cyn has no choice but to tolerate the twin’s abuse. She does, however, enjoy hanging out at the station and proves to have such a knack for the business that the studio manager makes her an honorary (unpaid) Program Director, allowing her to come up with ideas. As for romance, Cyn’s long-dormant social life gets a lift when she meets a cute guy at Starbucks. Believing Eric to be a working stiff, and rightfully worried that predatory Lila and Ami will either scare or steal him away, she keeps her family history secret from her new beau. Turns out, though, that princely Eric is actually EJ Sandoval, CEO of AmerCon, a media conglomerate set to purchase RTV. Confusion ensues, the twins find out about Cyn’s relationship with Eric and “fire” her shortly before an important music-awards ceremony that Cyn had planned. It is then up to Cyn to try to make it right with Eric. So with help from the station’s flamboyant makeup artist and self-proclaimed “fairy godmother,” the newly delectable Cyn shows up at the event clad in a Valentino gown and, of course, crystal-heeled stilettos.

Berta’s (Friday Night Chicas, not reviewed) Latin-flavored chick-lit leaves no cliché unused.

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-312-34172-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2006

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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