A strong reminder of just how affecting nostalgia can be, but Part 2 of this love story is out of tune with its beginning.

THE BEST OF ADAM SHARP

Simsion makes a clear departure from the world of The Rosie Project (2013) and provides a soundtrack to this story of love in two parts.

Adam Sharp usually reserves reminiscing about his stint as an IT consultant in Melbourne for when he’s listening to sad songs of lost love. But a one-word email from his ex-lover is powerful enough motivation to get him questioning his choices over the last 22 years. When “hi” hits his inbox, Adam is living a life of routine in England. His long-term relationship with fellow IT professional Claire is more friendly than passionate but extremely functional. Gone are the days where he is regularly behind a piano, singing to—or with—a girl. For Adam, that girl is Angelina Brown, who walked up to him at the piano in 1989 with mascara running down her cheek and asked if he could play “Because the Night.” He ended by singing out to the man who pulled her away, whom he later discovers to be Angelina’s husband, with “a Lennon–McCartney send-off. ‘You’re Gonna Lose That Girl.' " The first half of the novel is devoted to Adam’s affair with the young, up-and-coming actress, with music playing an essential role in their connection—something they’ll never share with anyone else. Though “in the end it was [he] who lost the girl.” Back in the present, the email exchange turns from playful to life-changing when Angelina invites Adam to stay with her in France. The consequences of reconnecting take on the physical form of Angelina’s husband, Charlie, who reveals himself as an active player in this charade. Their week in France is a complicated unfolding that feels like its own book, a midlife crisis that develops in real time during which Adam's and Angelina’s versions of the past collide. With a piano serving as their medium, they must reconcile the 20-something versions of themselves with the people now sipping on 1966 Château Margaux.

A strong reminder of just how affecting nostalgia can be, but Part 2 of this love story is out of tune with its beginning.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-13040-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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