Hilarious autobiographical fiction debut for Britain's Lena Dunham—if you can forgive a dot too much nasty sex and poignant...

HOW TO BUILD A GIRL

From British humorist Moran (How To Be A Woman, 2012, etc.), an overweight, socially inept teen drops out of school to become a rock critic and sexual adventuress.

Fourteen-year-old Johanna Morrigan shares a bedroom with both her older and younger brothers, though the frequency of her trysts with her hairbrush might recommend otherwise. The birth of unexpected twin siblings, so far known only as David and Mavid, have made the family's Thatcher-era financial situation more desperate than ever. Her dad's attempts to revive his music career by networking at the local pub have led Johanna to conclude "the future only comes to our house when it is drunk." After a humiliating appearance on a local talk show, the unsinkable Johanna goes for re-invention from the ground up. She renames herself Dolly Wilde after Oscar's niece ("this amazing alcoholic lesbian who was dead scandalous"), assembles a wall collage of inspiring women and sexy men (including "Lenin when he was very young—I don't know exactly what he went on to do but I do know that he looks hot here"), and breaks away from her parents' playlist, substituting Bikini Kill and Courtney Love for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. By 1992, 17-year-old "Dolly" has wangled herself a job writing reviews at Disc and Music Echo magazine, which leads to her encountering and falling in love with a perfectly imagined rock star named John Kite, "the first person I'd ever met who made me feel normal." Their ecstatic, chaste night together is the high point of the book. After that, she weathers the perils of being both the meanest and easiest music critic in town.

Hilarious autobiographical fiction debut for Britain's Lena Dunham—if you can forgive a dot too much nasty sex and poignant lessons learned.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-233597-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

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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