A surprisingly complex and realistic love story delicately narrated by an endearing protagonist.



A debut novel follows a girl’s crush as it evolves into a lifelong tale of obsession and passion.

Judith first met Elliot as a fifth grader who had recently moved to Chicago’s North Side in the mid-1950s. Then, he was just a little boy with torn trousers, but over the course of the next 60 years, Elliot would become Judith’s lover, friend, and permanent addiction. “Our relationship was a cocktail mix of rivalry and loyalty—shaken with a strong dose of passion and resentment,” Judith writes of their time as academically competitive sixth graders, which would set the tone for the decades to come. Following the suicide of Elliot’s mother, Judith consoles him while being overjoyed at their relationship’s shift into teenage romance, but college abruptly ends her dreams of a happily-ever-after. Instead, they pursue different paths, with Elliot transforming into a high-powered New York attorney and Judith becoming a divorced social worker in California. Through letters and cross-country trips, they remain in each other’s lives. But Judith always follows their unsaid agreement that she not talk about her love for him. Throughout children, divorces, and even deaths, Klasson brings the two characters together again and again with the same devastating result for Judith, who never gives up on the “man by which I had measured all other loves.” Written in the first person and addressed directly to Elliot, the novel’s prose is strikingly elegant and intimate. What could easily slide into a melodramatic tale of long-lost love turns into a realistic and psychological study of one woman’s deepest thoughts. The author also cleverly develops supporting characters through Judith’s eyes. (Judith’s eventual friendship with Elliot’s second wife and her reactions to Seth, her philandering first husband, are easily some of the narrative’s most memorable and captivating moments.) While the pace of the book’s second half slows down considerably as the two lovers move into old age and toward the bittersweet conclusion of their long journey, Klasson fills every scene she can with thought-provoking reflections on the nature of love, family, and romance.

A surprisingly complex and realistic love story delicately narrated by an endearing protagonist.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-604-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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