Amiable, though the manic narrative style can be grating.

CHOSE THE WRONG GUY, GAVE HIM THE WRONG FINGER

A runaway bride, competing brothers, a potential gold digger and a 30-day “reinvent yourself” challenge provide laughs in this latest from Harbison’s good-girls-making-bad-choices arsenal.

Long ago, Quinn almost had it all: She was moments away from marrying Burke Morrison, high school’s sexiest nice guy and heir to a dreamy Virginia horse farm where Quinn would happily live. That is, until Burke’s older brother, Frank, knocked on the vestry door and dropped a bomb: Burke had been cheating on Quinn. The wedding was called off. A few days later (in a blur of rage and misery), she and Frank drove to Vegas, where they engaged in some regrettable intimacy. Ten years later, Quinn is still wondering what went wrong. Why did she trust Frank’s story? Why didn’t she talk it over with Burke? Ironically, she designs wedding dresses and comforts nervous brides, but her own romantic life is stuck in the deep freeze. When Morrison matriarch Dottie comes in to have a wedding dress made, Quinn gets plenty of opportunity to resolve her issues. Although Dottie has reached her golden years (she’s Frank and Burke’s grandmother), she still wants a little romance and has found it in Lyle, a much younger furniture salesman she met online. When they marry, Dottie will sell the farm (this is unbearable to Quinn, since she spun her best fantasies there), and soon, Frank and Burke will be in town to help her pack up—that is if they can’t dissuade her from marrying what they suspect is a gold digger. Best friend Glenn sees the strain Quinn is under and so creates daily challenges (drink all day long, try speed dating, wear a side pony) in hopes of raising Quinn's courage. With Burke and Frank both in town, Quinn can rehash the past in order to create a future. The question is, which brother will be in it?

Amiable, though the manic narrative style can be grating.

Pub Date: July 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-59913-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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