SUPERPOWERS

A quirky nocturnal visitor offers a confused 16-year-old the superpower of his choice.

Everything is suddenly different for Skipper, a New York City teenager; less than a week after his mother’s death from cancer, he wakes up in a hospital bed after suffering what his doctor calls a “life threatening” asthma attack and finds that someone is in the room with him—a strange man wearing a sombrero, a horizontally striped suit and mismatched socks. The odd stranger introduces himself as Hal and offers Skipper any superpower he would like, under the assumption that he will use it to make the world a better place. Unsure which power to choose, Skipper agrees to think about it and drifts off to sleep, bringing the surreal conversation to an end. The next day, Skipper isn’t sure whether the encounter had actually taken place, or whether it was brought on by the strong asthma medication his overprotective mother had always been wary of his using. But when Hal continues to visit Skipper at night, the teenager mulls over his superpower options in earnest. Meanwhile, Skipper, along with his best friends Albert and John, must negotiate all the social and physical hazards that come with being the relatively uncool kids at their exclusive private school, while Skipper deals with a crabby, emotionally distant father, an eager love interest and, most importantly of all, the freedom and responsibility that comes with life without his overprotective mother. This book presents a humorous yet poignant account of a young man’s first brush with adulthood, featuring well-rendered, believable characters. The prickly relationship between Skipper and his father is especially well done, and the scenes between Skipper and Hal utilize peculiar dream logic to good effect. There are moments that are slightly out of place—an encounter with a bully at a dance, for instance—but overall the plot flows nicely. The book’s simple prose and lighthearted tone make it a pleasure to read, and, combined with its universal themes, suitable for young readers and adults alike. The fact that the humor tends toward the goofy only adds to this book’s considerable charm. A touching, funny novel perfectly suited for anyone who is or ever has been a teenager.

 

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2011

ISBN: 978-1461170167

Page Count: 249

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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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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