A fast-paced, rewarding read whose combat realism is extraordinary.

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THE JOURNEY

A teenager develops a talent for killing, both in and out of the Army, in this riveting Vietnam-era thriller.

Rick Fountaine, 15, flees Connecticut after murdering the family that abused him and his mother. In Chicago, he finds a job and friends, but death follows him. He kills again—in self-defense, but no matter. He moves on to Peoria, then to Texas, then to California. His fake IDs catch up with him: Because he has pretended to be older than he is, he is drafted. Posted first to Texas, his platoon is shipped out to Vietnam. There he excels. His talents for finding the right way through the jungle and spotting ambushes—perhaps, he thinks, something innate from his Native American heritage—make him no friends with his commanding officer, but others appreciate him, including the CIA. He goes on a black-ops mission, providing critical covering fire for his team. Wounded on what was supposed to be a safe patrol, he is discharged. He connects with an old Army buddy and finds that there is a civilian demand for a man with his skills. He joins a team of fellow veterans working as “independent contractors” and soon finds himself pitted against embezzlers, high-end art thieves and Chinese drug smugglers. First-time author Le Beau has delivered a potent mixture of teen rebellion and true-to-life combat. Enormously compelling, this book doesn’t let you put it down. Le Beau, a Vietnam veteran, realistically depicts jungle patrols and firefights like no other. Yet there are quibbles. The first chapter makes Fountaine seem like an irredeemable psychopath, a notion the rest of the book does not support. What made him so good at violence needs to be reworked. The frequent switching from past to present tense doesn’t work, either, and the pacing at times is almost too fast. And who is the intended audience? It has the tone of a YA novel because of Fountaine’s voice and youth, but it could easily have mainstream appeal as well.

A fast-paced, rewarding read whose combat realism is extraordinary.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1483415758

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2014

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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