This bumpy tale about two young women finding themselves and reconnecting across cultures glimmers with beautiful portrayals...

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RICE GIRLS

A debut novel focuses on two South Korean sisters reunited in Los Angeles seeking success and love.

Sally Lee-Grant, who left South Korea for America when she was a child, hasn’t seen her younger sister, Jinhee, in 16 years. When Jinhee arrives in LA, Sally reminisces about the kids they used to be. But Sally’s American life is not the way that Jinhee imagined. Sally, a struggling actress, lives in a less-than-glamorous apartment with her aspiring screenwriter fiance, Jason. She is supposed to aid her mother and sister, but barely supports herself as a cocktail waitress at a sleazy club. Ever since she was born, Sally hasn’t fit in. Sgt. George Grant, an American soldier, helped her mother during Sally’s birth. When Sally’s mother announced that she was in financial distress and her two daughters must live with relatives, George returned and made an enticing offer. He wanted to adopt Sally and take her to America. Sally agreed to go if her mother would keep Jinhee at home. Jinhee felt betrayed when her sister and George departed for the U.S. Now, Sally tries to help Jinhee get a job, navigate LA, acquire a green card, and learn to drive. Through Jinhee’s eyes, readers see the struggles of moving to a new nation, longing for home, and attempting to assimilate. When she is called as a witness in a court case, it leads her to make a difficult decision, and Sally finds herself in a new phase of her life. Kim’s novel moves back and forth between the present (1999) and the past (Jinhee and Sally’s childhood in South Korea). The descriptions of South Korea and LA are vivid, bountiful with imagery of food and city life. There is a zany cast of characters that surrounds the sisters’ childhood and the store that their parents own. But the author often uses parentheticals to define Korean terms, which is jarring and redundant as the book includes a glossary. In addition, the opening chapter is messy. It features an unnecessary monologue by Sally in a tone that is not repeated anywhere else, followed by a rushed dream sequence and Jinhee’s sudden arrival.

This bumpy tale about two young women finding themselves and reconnecting across cultures glimmers with beautiful portrayals of home and a new country.

Pub Date: June 18, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

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A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed...

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THE LAST TRIAL

Trying his final case at 85, celebrated criminal defense lawyer Sandy Stern defends a Nobel-winning doctor and longtime friend whose cancer wonder drug saved Stern's life but subsequently led to the deaths of others.

Federal prosecutors are charging the eminent doctor, Kiril Pafko, with murder, fraud, and insider trading. An Argentine émigré like Stern, Pafko is no angel. His counselor is certain he sold stock in the company that produced the drug, g-Livia, before users' deaths were reported. The 78-year-old Nobelist is a serial adulterer whose former and current lovers have strong ties to the case. Working for one final time alongside his daughter and proficient legal partner, Marta, who has announced she will close the firm and retire along with her father following the case, Stern must deal not only with "senior moments" before Chief Judge Sonya "Sonny" Klonsky, but also his physical frailty. While taking a deep dive into the ups and downs of a complicated big-time trial, Turow (Testimony, 2017, etc.) crafts a love letter to his profession through his elegiac appreciation of Stern, who has appeared in all his Kindle County novels. The grandly mannered attorney (his favorite response is "Just so") has dedicated himself to the law at great personal cost. But had he not spent so much of his life inside courtrooms, "He never would have known himself." With its bland prosecutors, frequent focus on technical details like "double-blind clinical trials," and lack of real surprises, the novel likely will disappoint some fans of legal thrillers. But this smoothly efficient book gains timely depth through its discussion of thorny moral issues raised by a drug that can extend a cancer sufferer's life expectancy at the risk of suddenly ending it.

A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed Innocent.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4813-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

ALL ADULTS HERE

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus run over a longtime acquaintance of hers—Barbara Baker, a woman she doesn't like very much—it's only the beginning of the shake-ups to come in her life and the lives of those she loves.

Astrid has been tootling along contentedly in the Hudson Valley town of Clapham, New York, a 68-year-old widow with three grown children. After many years of singlehood since her husband died, she's been quietly seeing Birdie Gonzalez, her hairdresser, for the past two years, and after Barbara's death she determines to tell her children about the relationship: "There was no time to waste, not in this life. There were always more school buses." Elliot, her oldest, who's in real estate, lives in Clapham with his wife, Wendy, who's Chinese American, and their twins toddlers, Aidan and Zachary, who are "such hellions that only a fool would willingly ask for more." Astrid's daughter, Porter, owns a nearby farm producing artisanal goat cheese and has just gotten pregnant through a sperm bank while having an affair with her married high school boyfriend. Nicky, the youngest Strick, is disconcertingly famous for having appeared in an era-defining movie when he was younger and now lives in Brooklyn with his French wife, Juliette, and their daughter, Cecelia, who's being shipped up to live with Astrid for a while after her friend got mixed up with a pedophile she met online. As always, Straub (Modern Lovers, 2016, etc.) draws her characters warmly, making them appealing in their self-centeredness and generosity, their insecurity and hope. The cast is realistically diverse, though in most ways it's fairly superficial; the fact that Birdie is Latina or Porter's obstetrician is African American doesn't have much impact on the story or their characters. Cecelia's new friend, August, wants to make the transition to Robin; that storyline gets more attention, with the two middle schoolers supporting each other through challenging times. The Stricks worry about work, money, sex, and gossip; Straub has a sharp eye for her characters' foibles and the details of their liberal, upper-middle-class milieu.

With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59463-469-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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