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

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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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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