Mothers of 18-year-olds may smile in recognition occasionally, but this is really weak.

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MULTIPLE CHOICE

Second novel from the author of Ready to Fall (2000), this time a low-wattage domestic comedy about a woman adjusting to her first-born’s freshman year in college.

Boston suburbanite March Monroe dropped out of college over 20 years ago to follow her then boyfriend/now husband Jeff to grad school, and she’s led a comfortable domestic life ever since, running typical women’s businesses (party planner, exercise trainer, life coach) and raising Olivia and Jackson. Now that Olivia is starting her freshman year at BU, March follows Jeff’s suggestion and enrolls at the local community college as a returning student. As part of her college curriculum, March takes on an internship at a local radio station. Who should March run into her first day at WQBM but Olivia, also applying for an internship. Olivia acts less than thrilled to see Mom, especially since March has neglected to mention that she’s back in school. Many readers, women in particular, will find March’s narration both annoyingly whiny and self-congratulatory. For all her good-natured complaining, her life is pretty TV-sitcom-perfect. Sure there are annoyances: The family pets get sick; Jackson eats junk food; Jeff doesn’t listen as well as he could, though better than most (plus he buys groceries and gives neck rubs). As for Olivia, there are no lurking problems with sex, drinking, or even identity crises—unless you count a wisdom tooth inflammation. That she’s aloof from, and easily embarrassed by, March doesn’t make for great drama. The plot, such as it is, centers on the mother-daughter radio show March and Olivia end up hosting for a good-looking radio producer with whom March carries on a very mild and brief flirtation. Each chapter begins with a cutesy multiple-choice quiz joke on mothers: hence the title.

Mothers of 18-year-olds may smile in recognition occasionally, but this is really weak.

Pub Date: July 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-670-03330-8

Page Count: 7

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2004

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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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