Reuss has given us a fascinating novel about interesting people who become fully formed in his writing, but the story never...



A middle-aged woman traces her father’s past on foot, by car, and from the sky as she uses her ability to fly.

Reuss begins his novel with a lovely bit of magic realism—an 8-year-old girl moving out of the flight path of a jetliner over New Jersey. The night landscape is below her, and “she could see herself in the distance, soaring, overtaking the woman she would become in the decades ahead.” That girl, now a divorced woman, Maisie, begins a journey through the pine barrens of her youth, reconnecting with the land and with her late father, Alden, and learning about the past from her father's cousin Sally—a wonderful character, quirky and comfortable. Sally remembers infinite details of people and places, time and space, but she has dementia and can't remember the previous day. Maisie is on a quest to discover her father, who was shunned by his in-laws after his wife’s death since he was a free-spirited artist certainly not able to raise their grandchild as only they could. His art is deeply connected to its place; he reworks the landscape in grand visions of ancient ruins and modern life. Maisie spent the summer she was 8 with him at Sally’s home in the woods, but her father disappears for good after losing his art in a fire. Forty-five years later, Maisie is contacted by Sally, who tells her that her father has died in Mexico, which initiates Maisie's search for his past in what's left of the forest. Reuss’ words are elegant, beautiful at times, creating a labyrinth of time, and his characterization is truly wonderful. But the book never comes together. Alden’s landscape art is an intellectual dead end for the reader, and the sense of family through place that Maisie longs for does not materialize, except from the air, real or not.

Reuss has given us a fascinating novel about interesting people who become fully formed in his writing, but the story never quite does.

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-60953-128-7

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Unbridled Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


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

Did you like this book?