Slightly flawed, but an OK way to spend a rainy afternoon.

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THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY

Screenwriter Dixon’s (The Language of Secrets, 2010) second novel centers on the convergence of the lives of three women who have a mysterious connection.

Livvi is a published novelist whose lonely, abusive childhood has left her emotionally damaged and needy. Growing up with a cruel stepmother and cold father, Livvi believes her mother was a party girl who abandoned her as a baby. Now an adult, Livvi has yet to break free of her need to find love and acceptance, and her relationship with Andrew, the rich owner of a publicity firm, seems to be exactly what she’s been looking for all her life—until she discovers that Andrew’s withheld huge secrets from her. Livvi begins to see that her knight’s shining armor is somewhat tarnished, but she feels obligated to stay with Andrew for one very important reason. Across the country, famous photographer Micah is informed that she’s ill and must begin treatment immediately if she wishes to survive. But Micah’s not sure she deserves to live. Before she decides, Micah sets out to settle some debts from her past, seeking out people she once knew. However, despite her generosity to a cab driver’s family, the absolution she seeks proves elusive. Flash back to 1986. AnnaLee is the devoted mother of a daughter whom she and her husband call “Bella.” They live in the home that once belonged to AnnaLee’s parents, a place where she always felt loved and secure, and AnnaLee is brokenhearted that she has to sell her parents’ treasures piece by piece to keep her family afloat financially. Husband Jack is a poor provider and a fragile man who leans on his wife for support, but AnnaLee hasn’t given up on him. Seemingly unconnected, these three women have one object in common: the image of a woman in a shimmering gown and pearl boots. Dixon’s narrative begins as a real page-turner but breaks down about two-thirds of the way through; by this point, some readers will put together all the pertinent information and spend the last third focusing on the minor holes in the story and the clunky dialogue.

Slightly flawed, but an OK way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8572-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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