A suspenseful fantasy that delivers a richly layered, thought-provoking plot infused with messages about self-realization...

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EMERSON PAGE AND WHERE THE LIGHT ENTERS

In this debut YA novel, the extraordinary truth behind the death of her mother kindles a teenager’s determination to claim her place in a world-threatening conflict between light and dark.

Odd things are happening around 13-year-old New Yorker Emerson Page, a girl who has suffered from severe anxiety since the death of her mother five years ago. The official cause of death is still unknown. The teen’s therapy dog, Friday, is her anchor; so is Columbia student Skylar, who stays with her when Emerson’s forensic linguist father is away. A trip to her favorite bookstore is the catalyst for puzzling events that begin with the gift of an old tome; the disturbing appearance of a part-metal, part-flesh woman named Cassandra; a howling storm; and a riot on the street under a sky “painted the color of chaos.” Indeed, mysteries and portentous happenings so abound that readers could well feel at sea if not for Avampato’s taut unveiling of a fantastical hidden world, where descendants of the nine Muses in Greek mythology must find a way to prevent the destruction of all human creative thoughts and endeavors by one of their own. Can Emerson be the key? The author takes her relatable heroine on a journey toward self-determination, strength of purpose, and the discovery of her own gifts of light and imagination. During Emerson’s odyssey, paintings come to life; books in a vast “Library of Imagination” represent nothing less than the lives of every creative mind on Earth, past and present; and the heroine faces the nightmare that is Cassandra’s dark world of “In-Between.” The multilayered plot and vivid prose amply illustrate the tale’s key themes: the importance of human imagination, the arts, and invention as well as the value in finding and sharing one’s light. But Avampato may want to reconsider her statement, in her otherwise inspirational note about why she wrote her work, that there are “almost no” YA books “in which a female protagonist takes control of her own life and destiny.” Among the wealth of such novels: Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown, Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series, Catherine Linka’s A Girl Called Fearless, and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

A suspenseful fantasy that delivers a richly layered, thought-provoking plot infused with messages about self-realization and the significance of imagination and creativity.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-947486-00-3

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Thumbkin Prints

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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