Love’s labors aren’t always lost.

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A NEW BEGINNING

A ROMANCE

A single mother builds a new life and finds new love.

Sara Kyle’s life shatters the day she watches her husband collapse and die from a brain aneurysm while playing with their two-year-old son. Not only does she lose the man she loved, but she is suddenly the single mother of not only one child, but also a second son born just weeks later. Despite such devastating loss, Sara keeps going for her children’s sake and leaves the Midwest for California for a new start. Falling back on her interior-design training and talent, she builds her own business, buying, renovating and renting properties. Like her career, her boys grow and thrive. Her love life, however, remains empty, though she has suffered through many setups instigated by her matchmaking friend Maggie. When she meets handsome pediatric surgeon Mark Raybourne, she is strongly attracted to him despite her hesitation about getting involved with someone. The infatuation is mutual, but their courtship almost gets derailed before it begins by an awkward turn in their initial conversation. But Mark perseveres in winning over this beautiful, strong, no-nonsense woman, and the two find themselves falling for each other. Just as their romance begins to take off, however, Mark’s ex-girlfriend makes it known that she is not willing to give him up so easily and throws a devastating wrench into things that threatens to split the new lovers apart for good–and tear apart Sara’s life once again. Russello’s well-crafted debut novel treads on fairly worn melodramatic territory, but her characters are so real and skillfully drawn that it hardly matters. The author draws readers in with engaging prose and a heart-wrenching narrative, despite the story’s predictable plot twists.

Love’s labors aren’t always lost.

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0595-422609

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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