A short, intriguing novel of reincarnation.

Love Reincarnated

Sreedharan’s unconventional debut love story is food for the inquisitive soul.

Sri Hari lives in his family home in the small town of Chennai, India. At the urging of a neighbor and friend, Sri Hari acquires a large house, called Krishna Vihar, just across the road. Though Sri Hari has no real desire to own this home, his loyalty to his friend compels him to purchase the property in the hope that he can rent it out to reliable tenants. The arrival of Ravi, Shanti and their teenage daughter, Devi, answers this wish. The family seeks spiritual assistance and divine intervention for Devi at the nearby Krishna Temple, as she’s become afflicted with an unknown condition that has caused her to become disinterested in life. As the family settles in across the street, Devi soon shows signs of getting better. Shanti praises Lord Krishna, believing the prayers and devotions must be working, as “there is an enormous improvement in [Devi’s] attitude and she is no more that introvert girl.” Devi becomes particularly attached to Sri Hari and seeks his company continuously. Sri Hari views her as he would a beloved granddaughter, but Devi has fallen deeply in love with him, even though he’s several decades her senior. Sri Hari and Shanti seek professional help for the girl as they try to understand her infatuation. It soon seems likely that Sri Hari’s past life may be part of Devi’s present troubles; at the center of the story is the idea of reincarnation, the Hindu belief that “our souls discard our bodies when we die like we change our old dresses for the new ones.” Sreedharan presents an intriguing mystery and an unexpected love story as he explores concepts of passion, spirituality and astrology. Although the prose is occasionally stilted, with some grammatical slip-ups, Sri Hari’s voice comes through clearly, particularly when he opens up about his past and reflects on his emotions. In one particularly poignant section, Sri Hari mourns a lost love, finding that “time may heal the wound, but the loss cannot be compensated.” Although the author presents a story of atypical, largely unrequited love, romance devotees may still appreciate its concept of unending, spiritual adoration. Overall, this thought-provoking journey may lead readers to explore not only their religious beliefs, but also their thoughts on the lasting power of love.

A short, intriguing novel of reincarnation. 

Pub Date: March 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482719369

Page Count: 120

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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