Harmless fun, with some good thwacks at America’s idiotic health system.


A pair of loving but ill-prepared brothers take on the minions of the presidential machinery who have medical designs on a heart intended for the lads’ mum.

Fitzhugh (Fender Benders, 2001, etc.) slathers on the satire, sparing no excess in a sendup of medical/hospital/HMO and presidential evil doings featuring an ever growing cast of ever wilder characters blundering from LA to Salt Lake City as they dodge pursuers from warring Washington factions. Sweet 60-ish Rose Tailor is at the center of this pleasant nonsense about hearts and powers. Rose’s ticker is down to its last few beats when word comes that she’s finally at the top of the list of transplant patients. She’s had to wait unusually long because of her AB negative blood type, a type shared by America’s current president, whose dastardly chief of staff Martin Brooks believes the country would be better off not knowing that the Chief Executive isn’t really sturdy enough for the approaching election. So, just as West Coast transplant trainee Dr. Debbie Robbins is scrubbing up to pop a nice new heart into Rose, an FBI agent dispatched by Brooks informs her that there’s a higher place for it. But Washington hasn’t reckoned on Rose’s sons Spence and Boyd, bleeding-heart lawyer and chickenhearted banker respectively, who snatch organ and surgeon, scoop up their sedated mum, shanghai a closeted gay California Highway Patrolman, and cram them all into a 1965 Mustang, starting a trek for a new transplant venue. They’re pursued not only by the president’s goons but by Men in Black sent by the president’s comely rival, who thinks it might advance her cause if that heart didn’t make it into the executive thorax. Guided by desperation, ringleader Spence and reluctant brother Boyd head eastward in increasingly bizarre vehicles until they come to a Major Mormon Hospital, arriving in a Mormon school bus populated by nearly everyone they’ve met on the way.

Harmless fun, with some good thwacks at America’s idiotic health system.

Pub Date: March 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-380-97758-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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