A vivid, poignant story of a boy who learns to love.

A Rainbow Together

A young man takes a life-altering summer job in this debut coming-of-age novel.

With his Beatle-esque haircut and a shy, awkward demeanor, 16-year-old Davey Dodd doesn’t quite fit in at his high school, Newport Catholic, or anywhere else in his “rigidly monochromatic” Cincinnati community. But it’s the summer of 1964—the famous “Freedom Summer,” as the text none-too-subtly points out—and everything changes when Davey lands a job doing grunt work at the swank Sheraton Gibson Hotel. His co-workers, including a socially conscious receptionist, Janine Huber, and a maternal boss, Nancy Baioni, soon become his second family, offering him a welcome refuge from the often tense environment at home. But he forges his closest connection with Tony DeStefano, a handsome, artistic teenager. It’s clear that Davey’s interest in Tony is more than platonic, although a mixture of fear and guilt causes him to keep his feelings hidden. As the months pass, Davey tentatively begins to come to terms with his burgeoning sexuality, learning that, as Janine chides, “You can’t let other people stop you from doing what you know is right for you.” The novel gets off to a slow start, but patient readers will be rewarded with a sensitively told story of growing up in a time and place when difference was something people hid. Author Davies has an eye for detail that brings the midcentury milieu to life, but he wisely gives characters space to breathe within it. A fragment of an overheard conversation between Tony and his alcoholic father, for example, reveals everything that readers need to know about the boy’s home life, while the teasing remarks of Davey’s co-workers early on hint at the truth about his sexual orientation. Well-timed flashbacks, including memories of a childhood confessional scene and schoolyard bullying, are developed well enough to function as stand-alone short stories. Davies does draw a few supporting characters with overly broad strokes—Davey’s one-dimensional, shrewish mother, for instance, and a flamboyant gay couple from New Orleans who seem too over-the-top to believe—but that doesn’t diminish the novel’s overall power.

A vivid, poignant story of a boy who learns to love.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4834-5364-4

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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Hilderbrand’s portrait of the upper-crust Tate clan through the years is so deliciously addictive that it will be the “It”...

THE ISLAND

Queen of the summer novel—how could she not be, with all her stories set on an island—Hilderbrand delivers a beguiling ninth (The Castaways, 2009, etc.), featuring romance and mystery on isolated Tuckernuck Island.

The Tate family has had a house on Tuckernuck (just off the coast of swanky Nantucket) for generations. It has been empty for years, but now Birdie wants to spend a quiet mother-daughter week there with Chess before Chess’s wedding to Michael Morgan. Then the unthinkable happens—perfect Chess (beautiful, rich, well-bred food editor of Glamorous Home) dumps the equally perfect Michael. She quits her job, leaves her New York apartment for Birdie’s home in New Canaan, and all without explanation. Then the unraveling continues: Michael dies in a rock-climbing accident, leaving Chess not quite a widow, but devastated, guilty, unreachable in the shell of herself. Birdie invites her younger daughter Tate (a pretty, naïve computer genius) and her own bohemian sister India, whose husband, world-renowned sculptor Bill Bishop, killed himself years ago, to Tuckernuck for the month of July, in the hopes that the three of them can break through to Chess. Hunky Barrett Lee is their caretaker, coming from Nantucket twice a day to bring groceries and take away laundry (idyllic Tuckernuck is remote—no phone, no hot water, no ferry) as he’s also inspiring renewed lust in Tate, who has had a crush on him since she was a kid. The author jumps between the four women—Tate and her blossoming relationship with Barrett, India and her relationship with Lula Simpson, a painter at the Academy where India is a curator, Birdie, who is surprised by the recent kindnesses of ex-husband Grant, and finally Chess, who in her journal is uncoiling the sordid, sad circumstances of her break with normal life and Michael’s death.

Hilderbrand’s portrait of the upper-crust Tate clan through the years is so deliciously addictive that it will be the “It” beach book of the summer.

Pub Date: July 6, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-04387-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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