Sometimes funny, sometimes silly, sometimes quite sad—i.e., an accurate portrait of life in one's 50s.

IS THERE STILL SEX IN THE CITY?

The further adventures of Candace and her man-eating friends.

Bushnell (Killing Monica, 2015, etc.) has been mining the vein of gold she hit with Sex and the City (1996) in both adult and YA novels. The current volume, billed as fiction but calling its heroine Candace rather than Carrie, is a collection of commentaries and recounted hijinks (and lojinks) close in spirit to the original. The author tries Tinder on assignment for a magazine, explores "cubbing" (dating men in their 20s who prefer older women), investigates the "Mona Lisa" treatment (a laser makeover for the vagina), and documents the ravages of Middle Aged Madness (MAM, the female version of the midlife crisis) on her clique of friends, a couple of whom come to blows at a spa retreat. One of the problems of living in Madison World, as she calls her neighborhood in the city, is trying to stay out of the clutches of a group of Russians who are dead-set on selling her skin cream that costs $15,000. Another is that one inevitably becomes a schlepper, carrying one's entire life around in "handbags the size of burlap sacks and worn department store shopping bags and plastic grocery sacks....Your back ached and your feet hurt, but you just kept on schlepping, hoping for the day when something magical would happen and you wouldn't have to schlep no more." She finds some of that magic by living part-time in a country place she calls the Village (clearly the Hamptons), where several of her old group have retreated. There, in addition to cubs, they find SAPs, Senior Age Players, who are potential candidates for MNB, My New Boyfriend. Will Candace get one?

Sometimes funny, sometimes silly, sometimes quite sad—i.e., an accurate portrait of life in one's 50s.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8021-4726-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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