A treacly fiction debut from veteran journalist and Chicago Tribune columnist Greene (Hang Time, 1991, etc.): the story of three former high-school chums who decide to take a last summer off together after attending their 25th reunion. Ben, Michael, and Ronnie have each made their way in the world from small-town beginnings in Bristol, Ohio: Ben as a roving TV correspondent, familiar across America if not exactly famous; Michael as a devoted English teacher in the high school from which they graduated; Ronnie as a Cleveland multimillionaire after having married into money. When Ben pitches the idea of a summer sojourn, it doesn't take long for the others to leave their families to join him, and they spend their days driving and jetting hither and yon. Connections in Chicago get them into the Cubs clubhouse and the skybox at Wrigley Field; a chance conversation reunites them with Michael's first love, happily married in St. Louis but willing to meet them in Dallas for a weekend; Ronnie has a liaison with a dental hygienist whose jaw-drop beautiful body has men salivating wherever they go; Ben falls sweetly in love with a graduate student half his age. Meanwhile, the three reminiscence endlessly, but the experience is reaffirming as well: When Ronnie is abruptly tossed out as corporate chairman, he can recover, and even work on rebuilding his marriage. Ben also finds new purpose, turning his back on years invested as an all-American journalist to move back to Bristol and write a book, with his nascent romance showing promise. Rose-tinted, high-rolling male wish-fulfillment: the answer to every man's mid-life crisis, but terminally tedious as a novel.

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-42589-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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