A very adult remake of an after-school special that’s driven by story, not lessons.

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STASH

Minor vices and poor timing wreak havoc on the life of a reluctant housewife.

This debut novel by Klein owes much to the dramas of Tom Perrotta, mimicking the subdued desire and quiet angst of a certain breed of suburbanite. The focus here is drugs: who has them, why they use them, who’s supplying them, and why America has such a jones for the stuff. Our main prism into this multifaceted tale is 30-something mother-of-two Gwen Raine, who needs a little something to help her unwind. After scoring $500 worth of weed from her ex-boyfriend, an ambitious but unethical restaurateur named Jude Gates, Gwen smashes into a pensioner with dementia, killing him instantly. Though she wasn’t at fault, Gwen soon finds herself on the wrong side of a small-town detective with a mean streak who threatens to charge her with felony possession and endanger her custody of her kids unless she fesses up to who gave her the dope. This story line has plenty of verve, but Klein muddies up the water with a less interesting subplot. Ironically, Gwen’s husband Brian is an executive at a pharmaceutical company, one that is riskily marketing antidepressants as fat-fighting drugs. Meanwhile, Jude is deeply embedded in a scheme to bring massive amounts of hard drugs, not to mention trafficked girls, across the border through Montreal. He thinks it’s the deal that will buy him freedom, but as we all know from too many movies, the deal doesn’t usually go down like it should. Klein has a nimble storytelling style, and readers who dig these types of melodramas will find some richly intertwined stories. If he can learn not to throw in the whole kitchen sink, this novelist will have a promising future.

A very adult remake of an after-school special that’s driven by story, not lessons.

Pub Date: July 27, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-71681-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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