A romantic young girl believably grows into a remarkable young woman seasoned by life’s unexpected pitfalls in this dramatic...

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Running for Yellow

In Varrasso’s debut coming-of-age novel, a young woman struggles with faith, family and love while pursuing her medical degree.

Chiara Lazzaro, one of three daughters, lives near Pittsburgh on a large estate built by her Italian immigrant father. Born into a wealthy family, Chiara remains well-grounded and humble. Her hardworking parents, owners of a chain of restaurants, impress upon their daughters the value of education. Chiara’s father, Gian Carlo, is particularly adamant that his daughters not follow in his footsteps by working in restaurants. His dream is for them to obtain college degrees for professional careers, and his daughters must swear they’ll finish their education before marrying. After a traumatic incident with the parish priest, Chiara abandons her family’s faith in God and turns to science, which eventually leads to her entering medical school. Still a romantic, she falls in love and marries Adrian, a professional baseball player, despite her father’s strong disapproval. The upheaval continues for Chiara after her husband is traded to another team, leaving her to cope with her father’s heart attack, her difficult mother-in-law and a series of harassing phone calls from an anonymous woman claiming to be her husband’s lover. As her medical school grades begin to slip and her marriage fractures from the stress of doubt and the ongoing assault from the mystery woman, Chiara returns to her family for healing and support. With her confidence restored, Chiara is able to make the tough decisions that will preserve her identity and her future. In the fast-moving plot, Varrasso keeps the focus firmly on Chiara, though there are moments when other themes intrude. The oldest daughter’s struggles with fertility and the youngest daughter’s revelation of her sexual identity, for example, lead to some clumsy dialogue that adds little to Chiara’s personal journey. Regardless, the story is filled with likable, believable characters, and Varrasso deftly balances their flaws with redemptive qualities so that even Adrian’s domineering mother remains sympathetically human.

A romantic young girl believably grows into a remarkable young woman seasoned by life’s unexpected pitfalls in this dramatic story of love and family.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615715841

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Christina Varrasso

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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