A profound, perceptive story of a sexual abuse survivor.

SAY SOMETHING

In Morrison’s debut novel, a teen who suffered sexual abuse as a child finally goes after the perpetrator when she fears he hasn’t stopped targeting young girls.

Missouri high school senior Maggie Bryant generally keeps to herself. Nearly a decade ago, when she was 8, she admitted to a friend that her mom’s boyfriend, Warren, had been sexually abusing her. But after Children’s Services got involved, Maggie’s mother, Tina, convinced her daughter to recant. Though Warren never touched her again, Maggie has struggled ever since with the emotional aftershocks, including periodic night terrors. Now she just wants to be “normal,” and charming, chivalrous football player Matt McGuire gives her that chance. The two start dating, but Maggie, though she’s fond of Matt, finds it hard to open up about her past. That seems impossible given her abuser’s reputation: Warren is the assistant county prosecutor and a former high school football star whom even Matt admires. But when Maggie has an encounter with Warren’s young daughter, she suspects he’s still a predator. Despite Tina’s warning that Warren is a powerful man with connections, Maggie decides to turn him in for what he’d done years earlier. She anticipates—and faces—a backlash, but she’s determined to ensure that he never preys on another girl. Morrison aptly handles this story’s sensitive subject matter without graphically depicting Warren’s atrocities. Maggie is a complex, engrossing protagonist whose attempts to pass for a typical, carefree teenager involve a never-ending battle, and her first-person narrative makes it easy to understand why she’s been quiet for so long. Matt is a likable romantic lead with a few flaws (perhaps a bit overprotective), and even Tina is sympathetic, as there’s an implication Warren had been physically abusive with her as well. Morrison’s straightforward but stirring narrative stays predominantly in Maggie’s head, as the teen perpetually debates how to respond to particular situations and people while suppressing a constant anger.

A profound, perceptive story of a sexual abuse survivor.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73412-691-4

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Stories Matter Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2020

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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