An excellent Western tale with a winning heroine.


In this YA novel, a debutante from California decides to escape her smug suitor and test her mettle as a teacher in a frontier logging town.

Beatrice Blake, 17, is leaving Oakland and heading to Snohomish, Washington. As it happens, her two Blake uncles have prospered there, and her brother, Stewart, the black sheep of the family, has joined them and invited Beatrice to the town. She will work there through the winter and spring, having promised to return to marry her arrogant suitor. Her mother is a toxic snob and overprotective, but Beatrice takes her stand, and her father, his own dreams faded, backs her up. To say that Snohomish is not as idyllic as Beatrice had envisioned would be a gross understatement. Although there are good people there, many are both suspicious and superstitious. Beatrice, on the other hand, has been badly infected with her mother’s prejudices so, for example, it takes her forever and much pain to accept the fact that Twasla, a half Native American, is not her social inferior. Beatrice then is fighting on two fronts: the insularity of Snohomish and her own deep biases. Wood (Langley, 2012, etc.) stirs the pot nicely, and for every step forward, Beatrice takes two steps back. The worst troubles occur when the smallpox plague strikes and kids die. Somehow Beatrice is blamed and branded a witch. For a time, it looks as if her life is in danger, but she refuses to scoot back to Oakland as Stewart urges. A few of the plot strands are a bit too pat (Stewart and Twasla become engaged). But while this is Wood’s debut novel, she is an experienced writer—with many nonfiction books under her belt—and it shows. Her tale should appeal to both the YA audience and older readers. The author has a deft hand with characters, especially Twasla and George Hess, who may turn out to be Beatrice’s great love. Readers should cheer as, after many difficult trials, the heroine finds the path to her true self. Along the way, she must determine whether she will stay in Snohomish and become the inspired teacher that she hoped she could one day be.

An excellent Western tale with a winning heroine.

Pub Date: June 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9656119-0-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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