Perkins writes with soft beauty and brings out both the serenity and the strains of growing up, growing old and facing the...

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THE FORRESTS

A novel that highlights the triumphs and vicissitudes of the Forrest family, primarily Dorothy, who both lives her life and tries to make sense of it.

Sisters Dorothy, Eve and Ruth—along with their brother, Michael—have affectionate though spotty memories of their early life in New York, but while the girls are still young the family moves to Auckland, New Zealand. They soon meet 13-year-old Daniel, whose life will intertwine with theirs for the next 50 years, for he will eventually become both Eve’s and Dorothy’s lover. The life of the Forrests plays out in both conventional and unconventional ways. When the children are still quite young, for example, the mother takes them to a “wimmin’s commune” for some rest and relaxation, where they meet earth mother Rena. As a young adult, Dorothy marries Andrew, an artist, while Eve marries Nathan, seemingly a “safer” choice since he’s an accountant. Along the way, both couples have their marital ups and downs and occasional infidelities, but Eve dies at a relatively early age, leaving several young children behind her. As Robert Frost reminds us, however, “Life goes on,” and so it does for the Forrests. The kids grow up, Dot grows out of love with her husband, and almost always lurking in the background is Daniel, occasionally messed up by drugs but always charismatic and electrifyingly attractive to Dorothy. Eventually, Dorothy becomes a grandmother, and even toward the end of her life feels the lure of Daniel, for she discovers he has become the primary relationship in her richly indulgent life.

Perkins writes with soft beauty and brings out both the serenity and the strains of growing up, growing old and facing the lives we’ve made.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60819-677-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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