A haunting book from a novelist (Loving Pedro Infant, 2001, etc.) who inspires us to appreciate what we have before it is...

THE KING AND QUEEN OF COMEZÓN

Chávez's new novel is the sprawling tale of Comezóna New Mexico border town. The book is anchored by the aging master of ceremonies of the town's yearly fiesta, Arnulfo Olivárez, as he regretfully looks back on his life.

Longing, the author’s  translation of “comezón,” is at the center of this book and all its characters. Longing for the local priest, El Padre Manolito (Juliana Olivárez); longing for the crippled Juliana, the woman he cannot have (El Padre Manolito); longing for the family she knows is her right (Juliana's sister, Lucinda Olivárez); longing for peace from his obsession with the illegals he helped deport to Mexico (Rey Suárez the bar owner); and longing for her husband’s attention (Emilia Olivárez). Everyone longs for love and for the body they desire—whether that body be their own full and healthy again or the body of a lover. “What was he doing here…besides longing for love?” asks El Padre Manolito. Indeed, whose longings will be satisfied and whose will go unrequited becomes the central drama of the novel. And when Emilia suffers a near-fatal stroke, it sets off a chain of events that forces the characters, especially her husband, Arnulfo, to reconsider what they truly desire. Told in the close third person, the narrative shifts among the points of view of all the characters. While the rotating perspective does create some beautiful moments and reveal some delicious ironies, at times the story slows when information is repeated from multiple perspectives without adding further depth. But if you have a penchant for winding narratives in which the drama of the story takes place within the Proustian world of memory, this is the book for you. 

A haunting book from a novelist (Loving Pedro Infant, 2001, etc.) who inspires us to appreciate what we have before it is gone.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8061-4483-2

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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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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