A spirited, lavishly detailed behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a newsroom.

MESSAGES

Journalist Carr’s (A Journal of the Crazy Year, 2013, etc.) accomplished debut novel takes readers into the world of local newsroom politics, rendering that world in elaborate, Dickensian detail.

Here are the petty turf wars over stories and bylines, the venal and greedy ad-people willing to do anything to increase the station’s revenue, the brainless and bullying newsroom bosses whose screw-ups make life miserable for the hardworking writers and reporters. Here are the pompous news-readers enjoying their local celebrity and the real stories reporters have to fight to get told. Arrow Henley, an ace reporter at WDIK-TV’s Action News in Knoxville, Tenn., had been told by his station’s general manager to go get sensational footage of a young man threatening to commit suicide by throwing himself off a bridge. Remembering the assignment sends Henley on a drinking binge, but his dilemma—an old-fashioned, story-oriented newsroom being taken over by ratings-and-numbers-driven mindless media—is shared by all of Carr’s main characters, including Dexter Drimmel, a caustic newsman from WIMP in Little Rock, who’s tired of seeing his station run preprogrammed “content” (bought in two-hour blocks from a West Coast company) rather than actual local news reported by actual local reporters. Reporter Dan Price, whose copy gets rewritten by his overbearing bosses and who dreams of somehow fighting back, feels the same way. These workplace stories are rendered by Carr in such intricate detail and with such smooth skill that readers will easily gain a vivid sense of what it’s like to work in a local newsroom—the technical problems, the industry jargon, the multitude of quick decisions that need to be made every day. Against this backdrop, Carr weaves a theme of corruption that provides most of the book’s considerable comic energy and fast-paced dialogue.

A spirited, lavishly detailed behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a newsroom.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-1493593613

Page Count: 496

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2014

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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