A skillful examination of necessary lessons learned the hard way.

FIRST YOU PAY

In Haymes’ debut novel, Dr. Paul Ochs goes from respected surgeon to inmate 9567245 in a Texas penitentiary.

The Bible teaches that pride comes before the fall, and few books exemplify this better than Haymes’ debut novel. Ochs is a man with good reason to be proud: He’s the chief of orthopedics at GlenHaven Hospital, and he lives in a mansion with his beautiful wife, Carol, and their teenage daughter, Jessie. He has money, family and prestige until the Texas Rangers take him away in handcuffs for multiple counts of Medicare fraud. In his mind, the victimless crime was justified: Carol had cancer, and the only cure was an expensive and experimental treatment. His motive was love, and it had saved Carol’s life. Against his attorney’s advice, Dr. Ochs goes to trial convinced he’ll be vindicated. But the story that the prosecutor, his colleagues and even his wife tell—that her cancer was just an annoyance to him—isn’t what he was expecting. Angry, betrayed and alone, Paul will have time to try to reconcile his reality with theirs while serving three years in prison. But even there, the clever doctor has an endless supply of justifications for ignoring the insights of those around him—until his cellmate, an intelligent blabbermouth named Rene, and Wanda, a nurse at the hospital where Ochs once worked, wear him down into admitting the truth, to them and to himself. Redemption must begin with acceptance, and Haymes expertly explores the rationalizations of a man on a personal journey he never wanted to begin but can’t afford not to finish. Although things wrap up a little too neatly, the lessons he learns make Ochs a compelling character.

A skillful examination of necessary lessons learned the hard way.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0985663001

Page Count: 310

Publisher: David Haymes M.D.

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2013

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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