From novelist Hower (Night Train Blues, 1996, etc.), a generous but unconvincing portrait of a fragile cowgirl who finds love at rehab. Twenty-one-year-old June is a tough-but-tender six foot one redhead who vows to give up booze after a violent brawl in a Wyoming bar. She narrates her stint at The Pines, a New England country-clubbish rehab and psychiatric hospital where the patients are called ``guests'' and the women wear pearls to dinner. June perks up when someone her age arrives: Jack is a scruffy and laconic sometime college student hung up on another woman. After some initial spats, though, the two start taking walks and talking. Jack reveals childhood trauma, and June talks about her brother Bobby, who shot himself. Meantime, June's avuncular shrink helps her realize how responsible she's felt for her brother's attempted suicide, while her various patient pals indulge in antic goings-on. But despite a tendency to be caretaker at large, June's bravado breaks down over Jack: Are they friends or are they flirting? Her sole experience with men consists of being groped and assaulted by drunken cowboys. Can she handle sober, friendly sex? Well, she can, actually, because she and Jack are unguarded, honest, and wildly attracted to each other. But the new attachment brings a new fear: What will happen to the affair after they've both been discharged? In spite of occasional powerful moments, such as an outbreak of collective hostility among the patients during a screening of Suddenly Last Summer, the action lags for most part, punctuated only by actings out, and by June and Jack's far- fetched romance. Worse, June remains a cipher: while she's portrayed as a popular den-mother who's both tomboyish and vulnerable, her character seems more self-consciously eccentric than genuinely confused. An inoffensive fairy tale, then, of speedy healing and plain-talking young love.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-877946-92-3

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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