THE IMMORTALISTS

An unapologetic, perverse, yet spiritual first novel that follows one man’s mistakes and triumphs when he learns that he can live forever.

David’s novel follows Israel “Izzy” Stern, a recent Boston University graduate living alone in Providence, R.I. All the family Izzy has is his grandfather’s friend, Uncle Jack, who meets with him at a Starbucks the summer after college to play chess, ogle the busts of coeds from Rhode Island School of Design and Brown, and for Uncle Jack to tell Izzy his secret—he’s immortal. Jack’s wisdom, money and immortality—a gift Izzy learns he shares with Uncle Jack—catapults Izzy from his life of womanizing and grappling with his insecurities to one of wandering, helping and learning. But Izzy’s transformation comes not without him first hitting rock bottom: “He had become a riches-to-rags cliché. Izzy too, like Aqualung had stared at young girls with bad intent. And Izzy, like Mrs. Robinson in the Simon and Garfunkel song, now prayed for a place in heaven with God. His agnosticism was now completely suspended due to his new low standing in the world.” David’s writing is punchy and incorporates lyrics to classic songs as well as pop culture and perversity. Although the occasional authorial interruption is distracting, David makes up for it with his honest prose that questions societies’ beliefs about God and discusses the growing problem of militant and persecutory views that jeopardize human lives. In the style of Salman Rushdie—though David is not quite as ambitious—magical realism is used to explore religion, spirituality and the state of our world today. This work should secure David a place within the genre as a writer who will tickle the reader, make her think and then take a hard look at the world around her. David’s compelling debut successfully incorporates pop culture, profanity and religion into a resonant exploration of existence.

 

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1105119057

Page Count: 145

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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