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I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER

Moving and honest exploration of sex, sin and redemption.

A gay Atlanta businessman struggles to make peace with his faith and sexuality when his first love unexpectedly reappears.

With a successful greeting-card company, chic apartment and no shortage of handsome male admirers, Chauncey Greer has much to be thankful for. And he shows his gratitude every Sunday by attending services at Abundant Joy, a moderately sized church where he feels accepted, “measured by the love I have in my heart and not the lust I have in my head.” It is during one rousing service that he finds himself haunted by his past, and the singing career he gave up far too soon. As a teenage member of R&B boy band Reunion, Chauncey briefly tasted fame, until his close relationship with bandmate Sweet D tore the group apart. Ready for a comeback, Chauncey is understandably excited when his pastor taps him to sing at a revival headlined by up-and-coming minister and senatorial candidate Bishop Damien Upchurch. His joy turns to dismay when he finds out that the young bishop is none other than Sweet D, all grown up and running on a conservative—and rabidly anti-gay—platform. Chauncey is then torn between outing the hypocritical preacher and keeping his private life private. To add to this stress, Chauncey is menaced by a studly wannabe-be blackmailer and confronted by Damien’s nasty shrew of a wife, Grayson, who wants to make sure that nothing stands in the way of her Election Day plans. Harris’s addictive latest (A Love of My Own, 2003, etc.) manages to capture both the erotic heat and spiritual fervor of Chauncey’s world, as the man is forced to face the choices he has made, and the fact that he has been unable to enjoy a committed relationship since parting with Sweet D. The story ends somewhat quickly with a silly soap opera twist that does little to cloud its inspiring message of spiritual love and inclusion.

Moving and honest exploration of sex, sin and redemption.

Pub Date: May 2, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-51272-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2006

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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