A deftly written but overlong tale of a troubled teen’s incarceration.

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CHRISTINE, RELEASED

In this debut novel, Burke tells the story of a daughter’s imprisonment and a mother fighting for her freedom.

In 1987 Vermont, high school junior Christine Bancroft hangs out with “the stoner crowd”—“morons,” as she thinks of them. They include Megan, who, one night, goes off with a guys from the local paper mill and leaves Christine stranded in the next room with no ride home. Christine lives with her mother, Lynne, although their relationship has been strained since Lynne allowed her boyfriend, Frank, to move in with them. As Lynne fights with Christine’s father, Mark, about child support payments, the teen meets and later moves in with a local cocaine dealer named Jimmy Connell. One night, police turn up and discover an ounce of coke in Jimmy’s apartment, leading to his and Christine’s arrests. At the station, she learns that Eddie Dugan, the son of the state’s attorney, has died of a drug overdose—and that Jimmy was his supplier. Ray Dugan wants to throw the book at them, and Christine ends up being detained by the state for an indefinite period of time. It will take all Lynne can muster to get her daughter released—but how long can Christine hold on? Burke’s prose is vivid and moody, as when she describes the arcade where Christine and her friends hang out: “Then the place lit up, or lit up as much as it was going to. It was still a hole, with a worn-out linoleum floor, scarred paneling, and fluorescent lights spazzing from the crumbly ceiling.” The narrative is a slow-boiling legal tale in which Christine’s situation becomes increasingly dire, and it renders in great detail the seemingly impenetrable layers of state custody in which a minor can find herself. That said, the book is easily 100 pages too long; it takes its time getting started, and then lingers too long at many points along the way. Burke’s fine writing and characterization make any given page compelling, but as they stack up, readers may be left feeling as trapped as her plucky protagonist.

A deftly written but overlong tale of a troubled teen’s incarceration.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947041-27-1

Page Count: 454

Publisher: Running Wild Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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