Miscolta’s debut novel explores familial boundaries and the isolation that can persist in the search for a lasting connection.

After immigrating to the United States, Johnny de la Cruz makes just one trip back to the Philippines in 1971. During this visit, he indulges in a brief affair with a flirt from his high-school years, Bunny Piña. Fast forward 19 years and Winston Piña, after burying his mother Bunny, discovers a letter she wrote but never sent to Johnny. This beginning feels a little rushed; there seems to be another novel in the Philippines setting of Johnny’s childhood. Miscolta takes her time, however, allowing a relationship to build between the de la Cruzs and Winston, who, now curious about his paternity, seeks out Johnny. The years since his visit to the Philippines have aged Johnny, now a fragile older man with cancer. The de la Cruz schedule revolves around regular fussing over Johnny by his wife Tessie and three daughters—though their fussing is less often motivated out of concern for Johnny than it is an act to prove their worth to one another. Johnny, on the other hand, cannot decide if he welcomes or refuses the attention. Miscolta takes on a lot of characters, each with a unique perspective on Johnny’s illness, Winston’s appearance and life in general. The de la Cruz family navigates their interrelations that are simultaneously enhanced and threatened by Winston’s presence. Each member feels as though Winston belongs within the family circle and perhaps he’s been there all along.  At times, however, the reader can feel as isolated from the characters as the characters are from one another. Though Miscolta assumes perhaps one persona too many, her transitions between them are seamless. She has moments of beautiful prose and exposes heart-wrenching loneliness. The author deftly demonstrates the lack of fulfillment and constant yearning for contact and love that come out of a failure to communicate. A story about family, infidelity and isolation that falls short in some places, but is worth a read for its authentic emotions.


Pub Date: June 28, 2011

ISBN: 978-9881989598

Page Count: 334

Publisher: Signal 8

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2012

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.


Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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