Chicago Tribune editor Trice brings a light touch of magical realism to this moving tale of violence, urban squalor, and upward mobility among the African-Americans who live in two distinct Chicago neighborhoods during the '70s. The only thing dividing swanky Lakeland from the blight of 35th Street is a fence covered with bushes. On the inside: beautiful apartment houses with model schools, a country club, and all the amenities of upper-middle-class life—a haven for ambitious blacks carved out of the urban landscape. Tempestt Saville, a redheaded 11-year-old, is suddenly dropped down in the sanctuary of Lakeland, where her hardworking father has accepted a job as a teacher. Sharing her mother's misgivings about the snobby inhabitants of this bourgeois retreat, Tempestt is drawn to life outside the gates and discovers a secret door to 35th Street, a decaying sprawl of rib joints, pool halls, saloons, and sidewalk preachers. There is, for instance, Alfred Mayes's ``New Saved'' congregation, a holy-rolling group who proselytize among the pimps, whores, and drunks. Miss Jonetta, who runs a drug- and food-store and tries to rescue lost girls, including ``Child'' (as she calls Tempestt), has a past of her own, having been recruited by Mayes as one of his prostitutes long ago. Nowadays, all the good and honest folk of the neighborhood hang out in her store. Tempestt, meanwhile, befriends Valerie Nicholae, a child of 35th Street who lives in Lakeland with her janitor brother (claiming to be her father). Such surprises are common in the mythically charged world limned by Trice—a world in which the day-to-day struggles of ordinary people assume heroic proportions. The magic is in the telling here, creating a fabulous novel that discovers transcendent possibilities on the mean streets of a city. Trice's greatest achievement may be how effortlessly (and modestly) she manages to mingle an original vision and real art.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-517-70428-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1996

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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