An often well-told, if occasionally puzzling, tale of a Semper Fi sisterhood.

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THE LADY LEATHERNECKS

In Kelly’s debut novel, four young women bond in the U.S. Marine Corps.

In 2001, Allyn Kend, who works at a Starbucks in Manhattan, enlists in the Marines. Her fiancé, Eliot Michaels, is already a lance corporal, and she wonders in what ways the corps will change her. At the Parris Island training installation in South Carolina, she meets fellow recruits, including wealthy Forsythia “Syth” Sangiorgio; Korean-American YeonBi “Bibi” Shim; and devoted Christian Jessica “Jezi” Kellerman. These new recruits, known as “turkey gobblers,” endure the break-’em-down, build-’em-up rigors of boot camp, determined to join the few and the proud. They must prove themselves physically and mentally fit as they gain expertise in rescue and rifles, survive on half-rations and learn to stand up for each other. After the Twin Towers fall on September 11, the significance of their commitment to military service deepens. Brusque superiors abound; one needles Allyn for her masculine-sounding name: “[A]re you really a boy sneaking in here to cuddle up with the ladies?” In brief, personal moments, the women reflect upon their love lives; Allyn is on track to wed Eliot but can’t forget her passion for the married Hector Archuleta. The novel pairs solid characterization with the authentic feel of military life, providing an inside look at daily rituals, military protocol and fledgling friendships among the Marines. Especially touching is the story of Lance Cpl. Jezi inspiring the privileged Cpl. Gabriel Lassiter to do the right thing. The dialogue is often fine, but the prose can be awkward: “Allyn’s wedding cake, I was determined, would crown her portfolio ready for the bigger and better.” Initially, the tale is undermined by its jumpy structure (providing, for example, two different characters’ points of view of the same conversation in separate sections), and it can be repetitive and confusing. The many-layered plot also touches on sex trafficking, pregnancy both in and out of wedlock, family dramas back home, moral dilemmas and suicide. However, the story’s focus strengthens toward the end.

An often well-told, if occasionally puzzling, tale of a Semper Fi sisterhood.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1490420615

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2014

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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