With complexity, honesty, and, above all, a sense of home, this book delivers a striking tale of a young émigré in the...

Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody

A debut novel encapsulates American traditions, bringing New York and immigrant stories together in that often overlooked part of the metropolis, the Bronx.

How do you fit in as an uncertain young man in a country going through uncertain times? It’s a question that haunts many and lies at the core of this story. But it’s even more relevant to Joey, who begins his American experience living on the outside looking in. His first years after his family emigrates from Italy are lonely, but survival leads to new opportunities, and the clan moves to the Bronx in the 1960s, putting Joey among relatives, friends, and his own people in the United States for the first time. But while the support and leadership of his cousin Spike and the rest of the local gang open up the world to Joey, they’re not enough to keep him from feeling like an outsider. There are times when he acts like one of the gang, chasing girls, dodging the dangers of the city, and having the madcap adolescent adventures he’s dreamed of. But too often he’s overcome by a sense that he doesn’t quite belong and that some terrible upheaval is coming. Case in point: the enigma of Rudy Kazoody, a figure who seems to represent Joey’s hopes, his terrors, and the sense of cultural shift and shock that pervades the boys’ corner of the city simultaneously. But for all that, and the fact that Kazoody only comes up in times of anguish, the other boys won’t tell Joey a thing about him. While Freda’s novel takes some expected turns, weaving in the love and loss that accompany any coming-of-age yarn, there’s more to this work than just those tropes. The mystery of Kazoody gets at a unique piece of immigrant experiences: the confusion, isolation, and even despair that come with growing up between two worlds. This narrative is only furthered by the tumultuous backdrop of the ’60s, with war and cultural change informing the boys’ trajectories. Brought to life by Joey’s complex narrative voice, the story cuts to the heart of America.

With complexity, honesty, and, above all, a sense of home, this book delivers a striking tale of a young émigré in the turbulent ’60s.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-9242-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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