Kepnes, whose previous novels deftly dealt with obsessive love, changes gears here and injects into this "Beauty and the...

PROVIDENCE

The mysterious return of a kidnapped boy is more curse than blessing in this novel—which is equal parts love story, thriller, and horror tale.

In Nashua, New Hampshire, young teen Jon Bronson is the sort of boy who loves newspapers and hamsters and takes the long way to school to avoid bullies. He also loves fellow teen and popular budding artist Chloe Sayers, though he never admits as much. Kepnes (Hidden Bodies, 2016, etc.) nails the tentative feelings that develop between kids from different middle school social strata. When Jon vanishes one morning—it’s revealed early on that his kidnapper is local substitute teacher Roger Blair—the relative speed with which the town’s interest wanes is nearly as devastating as his disappearance, a narrative trick Kepnes pulls off seamlessly. Four years later, a more muscular Jon emerges from the local mall with no memory of his captivity and a new obsession with the work of H.P. Lovecraft, particularly the novel The Dunwich Horror, which features a man named Wilbur Whateley, with whom Jon begins to identify. Soon after Jon's return, strange things begin happening to the people around him, from getting nosebleeds to fainting and even having a fatal heart attack. Jon disappears again, voluntarily this time, fearing that, like Wilbur, he’s the monster whose mere presence causes sickness and death. Kepnes follows Jon, Chloe, and Charles "Eggs" DeBenedictus, a detective from Providence, Rhode Island, over the years as they live their separate but interconnected lives: Jon in Providence under two assumed names; Chloe in New York City as an artist who shot to fame with her initial paintings of Jon during his disappearance; and Eggs as he investigates a series of seemingly unlinked heart-attack deaths of young people. As the three come closer to one another and are repelled by either choice or circumstances, the question of sacrificing love for safety becomes painfully clear to everyone.

Kepnes, whose previous novels deftly dealt with obsessive love, changes gears here and injects into this "Beauty and the Beast"–like story a deeper allegory about how far we’ll go to protect the things we love the most.

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-59143-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Lenny

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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