Quasi-gritty but nothing too surprising.



A novel that focuses primarily on African-American experiences, but Hill provides a universal—and didactic—moral point as he revisits characters from his previous fiction.                                   

D’Ray Reid, out of prison for having killed a young man, seems to have turned his life around, but when he finds out his brother Curtis has escaped from jail, D’Ray tries to reunite with his family and restore justice. In the social world Hill (A Person of Interest, 2006, etc.) creates, there’s plenty of family, as well as plenty of family tension, to go around. D’Ray’s mother Mira is in an adulterous relationship with Sonny while her husband is in Angola prison, and she holds D’Ray responsible for not having kept a sufficiently hawklike eye on Curtis, so she’s angry when D’Ray shows up hoping for reconciliation. When D’Ray (aka Outlaw) finds out that Curtis (aka Little Man) has escaped, he feels justice will best be served by persuading him to go back into custody and prove his innocence, for Curtis avows he’s been framed. The chief of police, who helped put Curtis in jail in the first place, has other ideas, however, and puts out an APB that sanctions violence if Curtis is found. Mira is immediately at odds with D’Ray, for she’s convinced it’s better for Curtis to die rather than join his father in Angola. The family moral adviser is Reverend Jacobs, who tries to mitigate Mira’s anger and alienation from D’Ray as well as get to the truth about Curtis’s supposedly criminal activities. Providing varying degrees of help are Peaches, D’Ray’s lover, and Reggie, a drug addict whose life Curtis had tried to turn around. In Hill’s moral universe there’s a sharp, almost allegorical break between those who are corrupt and those trying to see justice done. In the end everything turns out well and rather predictably, as a deus ex machina sheriff makes sure evil is punished.  

Quasi-gritty but nothing too surprising.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7582-1314-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dafina/Kensington

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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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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