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MAMA DEAREST

This sequel to Not a Day Goes By (2000) delivers plenty of catty dish with a dash of sentimentality. Fans of Harris, who...

Delicious diva Yancey Harrington Braxton’s grand scheme to make her showbiz comeback is complicated by her newly sprung jailbird mother—and a painful secret from the past.

Her career trajectory cooling off, actress/singer Yancey finds herself in Miami starring in a production of Dreamgirls, a gig that offers her a steady paycheck but nowhere near the adulation to which she feels entitled. Acutely aware that she is not getting any younger and contemplating selling the pricey New York City townhouse she can no longer afford, Yancey sees her luck improving when she meets oh-so-fine S. Marcus Pinkston outside a Miami club. Great in bed and loaded (he drives an Aston Martin, no less), S. Marcus certainly seems to be smitten with his new lady and even offers to boost her back on top by getting Yancey her own reality-show deal. Sweet! But while that is being worked out, and unbeknownst to Yancey, her mother Ava is released early from prison, where she was serving time for killing a man. A nasty piece of work who makes the self-centered Yancey seem like a kindergarten teacher, Ava claims she is eager to reconnect with her only child, but secretly plots revenge, blaming Yancey for ruining her life. She moves into her daughter’s house and enlists dimwitted fellow ex-con Lyrical and her drug-dealing thug boyfriend Donnie Ray to help with her plan. Meanwhile, Yancey learns that the daughter she gave up while in college has grown into teen singing sensation Madison B, a sweet girl raised well by Yancey’s ex. That Madison happens to be worth millions is not lost on Yancey, who tries to respect the girl’s privacy, while facing her many regrets. Madison aches for a mother’s love, but could she ever trust the woman who sat out the first 16 years of her life? Ava works her own angles, showing Yancey everything that a mother should not be.

This sequel to Not a Day Goes By (2000) delivers plenty of catty dish with a dash of sentimentality. Fans of Harris, who died in July, will lap it up.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4391-5890-6

Page Count: 438

Publisher: Karen Hunter Publishing/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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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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