Low-key, oddly unemotional soap, from the author of Rhythms (2001), etc.

AN ORDINARY WOMAN

Infidelity, followed by endless introspection.

African-American Asha, a globetrotting photographer, has more than her share of lovers—and can’t understand why she’s inexorably attracted to the man who just married her best friend. Granted, Ross Davis is a handsome, sensitive, hardworking architect, but that shouldn’t be enough to dazzle a sophisticated New Yorker like Asha, especially when he pledged his eternal love for Lisa at the church in front of all their friends and family. And Asha and Lisa have been friends since they met as children in a poor Brooklyn neighborhood. Could it be that Asha is attracted only to emotionally unavailable men because, years ago, her father abandoned her understandably angry mother for another woman? Moving right along to Ross’s point of view, it’s clear that he’s not ready for the whole commitment thing, fearing that he’ll have to sell out to afford Lisa’s dream of owning a Harlem brownstone or a spacious suburban house. Though he’s a considerate, upstanding man who believes in fidelity, he’s overwhelmed by the responsibilities of marriage and unable to resist temptation when Asha makes it clear she’s interested. His naïve new bride misses all the signs of the impending affair, but she’s devastated when it finally happens. Where did she go wrong? She took care of Ross in every way—how could he break her heart? Then Lisa’s mother reveals a long-hidden secret: She once had an affair with Lisa’s father’s best friend and had no way of knowing for nine long months whether the child she was carrying was his or her lover’s. Lisa ponders this judge-not-lest-ye-be-judged situation for a while and is glad there are no children this time around. Meantime, Asha’s mother explains the catastrophic breakup of her marriage in bitter detail, and she and Asha fight anew, unable to heal the old wounds. But life goes on—and new love awaits all.

Low-key, oddly unemotional soap, from the author of Rhythms (2001), etc.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2002

ISBN: 0-312-28191-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more