Spiritual fiction, as in The Pilgrim's Progress and Tolstoy's moral tales, can be sublime. In less imaginative works, such as The Celestine Prophecy and this debut novel, fiction turns to fortune cookie. Hunt (Learning to Learn: Maximizing Your Performance Potential, 1992, not reviewed) is an international business consultant, motivational speaker, and cofounder of a learning institute. Her present work tells of a band of 25 luminous beings as they are trained to take on human life and help rebuild human conditions on a spiritual foundation. At first completely ingenuous, each sentience comes to have a special quality: ``Zendar is centered and strong. Justin is feisty. Ashley is insightful. Jaron is open-minded and resourceful, and êlan brings enthusiasm to every adventure.'' They are led singly or in pairs through the Window of Time into simulations of Earth-life, where they have confrontations that generally dismay but eventually strengthen them. The whole band then experiences them at once, and discussion follows each simulation, while other learning devices include the nine Matos Mantras (willingness prayers) that the beings must remember and use. The Bunyanesque central device is that the beings should attempt to reach and climb Mount Akros to find the Cave of Compassion, where the peace and wisdom essential to spiritual life will be found. Occasionally, a being meets up with a difficulty faintly resembling the depravity of human life that causes prisons to be built (the climax, surprisingly, turns on a genetic defect: club feet), but a focus on inner strength and compassion sees the temporarily beleaguered being through despondency. The Message: There are two purposes to human life, one planetary (``to live the law of unconditional love in action'') and one personal (to use love in fulfilling minor missions that contribute to the whole of the human family). All you need is love, as John Lennon told us in three minutes. Is there an audience? Does care of the soul sell books? Are you kidding?

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 1996

ISBN: 0-7868-6177-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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