TOOTH AND CLAW

In Masterson's second Jim Rook series installment (Rook, p. 246), Catherine White Bird, the daughter of a Navajo, is able to turn at will into a huge, raging creature whose 12-inch claw- spread can tear holes in steel when not ripping out human hearts. A bout of pneumonia in childhood left Jim Rook equipped, like it or not, with psychic insight. Today, as a teacher at a community college in California, he runs a remedial class for slow learners, whom be brings up to speed by exposing them to modern poetry (Whitman, Ginsberg, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and others)—a terrific hit, as it turns out. But poetry is not all balm, either. It just so happens that one of his students, the lovely Catherine, was promised in marriage at age 12 to the demonic and detestable Dog Brother, who can call forth the terrible spirit known among the Navajo as Coyote. Catherine, now 15, has a boyfriend, Brad, who is suddenly found clawed to pieces. At the same time, the locker room for the school's football team is savaged, its lockers bent and ripped by giant claws, the team's uniforms shredded and helmets burst. Rook's apartment and all the contents are similarly shredded—and his cat murdered. Catherine's brothers, Paul and Grey Cloud, have a heavy-handed way of protecting their sister, which angers Rook. But he's informed by Catherine's father, Henry Black Eagle, that if he really wants to appease Dog Brother—and save Catherine- -then Rook must take his girlfriend Susan, two students, and Catherine and pay a visit to Dog Brother on the Navajo reservation. When Rook does so, though, he finds that the students and Susan are actually intended as sacrifices to Coyote. He also discovers that Catherine herself, not Dog Brother or Coyote, is Changing Bear Maiden, the raging black beast. . . . Styleless but straightforward, very nearly a YA novel.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-7278-5188-8

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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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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