Fans of romantic beach reads will find that this book’s charismatic heroine makes it an engrossing page-turner.

Waiting for Ethan

Almost 20 years after a psychic predicted she would marry a man named Ethan, a woman ready to give up on love meets the man of her dreams in Barnes’ debut novel.

Gina’s childhood friend, Neesha Patel, has a grandmother, Ajee, who’s reputed to have a psychic “gift.” She correctly predicted, for example, that Gina would break her arm and take a trip to Italy and that Neesha would move away from their town before the two girls started high school. “Her predictions came true too many times,” as Neesha puts it—except for one, in which Ajee foresaw that Gina would marry a man named Ethan. Gina, now 36, still hasn’t found this Ethan, and she faces pressure from her aging parents, who think that Ajee ruined her life with her prediction. After a blizzard strands Gina in her car, her serendipitous rescue by a man named Ethan Gregory seems to signal the end of her wait. Then she finds out that Ethan comes with some unexpected baggage, and although she’s desperate to live out Ajee’s prophecy and start a family, she thinks that this man might not be the one that the old woman predicted after all. Barnes’ charming protagonist is likable and relatable and well-supported by her two best friends—co-worker Luci Corrigan Chin and Neesha, whom Gina contacts following Ajee’s death even though the two haven’t spoken in almost 20 years. The author weaves these complex friendships into the narrative, giving extra dimension to what might have otherwise been a flat courtship story. She combines elements of romance and suspense as she slowly unravels Gina’s destiny, throwing in the dashing character of Cooper Allen, Gina’s co-worker, to complicate her relationship with Ethan. The novel’s surprising twist gives the story a satisfying conclusion that makes Gina’s struggle to find Mr. Right worth the wait.

Fans of romantic beach reads will find that this book’s charismatic heroine makes it an engrossing page-turner.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61650-789-3

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Lyrical Shine

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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