An appealing story of human resilience and connection with two memorable female protagonists.

Edna and Luna

Two unconventional women build an uneasy alliance that evolves into family.

Left alone after the death of her husband, 70-year-old Edna Harwood feels lonely, angry, and unmoored in Sun City, Arizona, where they had planned to spend their retirement together. She drinks an increasing number of bourbon shots as she struggles to reimagine a life alone while stubbornly ignoring the twinges of pain that tell her something may be terribly wrong inside. Across town in the Papago Trailer Park, Luna McLaren, a young drifter and psychic healer, attempts to make a home with her dog, Tula, advertising her gifts through fliers posted at local health food stores. When the two meet, Luna is drawn to Edna’s need, while Edna firmly resists both Luna’s help and her obvious weirdness. But Luna’s persistent warmth begins to chip away at the ice around Edna’s heart, and, when Luna discovers she is pregnant, the balance of need begins to shift as the two women begin to redefine friendship and family. Powers’ first novel is an engaging, affecting story about social isolation. For Edna, the loneliness begins with a miscarriage and is compounded by widowhood and aging. Luna’s healing gift has always set her apart from others since she was a child, but she retains an open heart, doggedly pursuing those in need of healing. Powers’ writing is understated and evocative, filled with apt descriptions, such as a television psychic who exhibits “the charisma of a wounded healer.” A rushed ending and promising but underused secondary characters, like Edna’s disabled nephew who sings barbershop quartet music, don’t detract much from this satisfying, uplifting read.

An appealing story of human resilience and connection with two memorable female protagonists.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-925417-18-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: Vine Leaves Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

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?

More about grief and tragedy than romance.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet