A moving, compassionate, and poignant tribute to the enduring bonds of family amid disease, this account should be a...


A devastating medical diagnosis redirects the future of a loving gay family.

When journalist Hunter MacIntyre is officially diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the news is crippling not only for him, but also for his husband, Ethan, a high school teacher, and their 5-year-old daughter, Amy. Prolific Swedish author Hirschi’s (Jonathan Trilogy, 2016, etc.) emotional tale opens with Ethan's presenting MacIntyre’s life through the journalist’s notes. Ethan—now a widower with a teenage daughter—continues to mourn the loss yet offers MacIntyre’s diary in hopes that it will illuminate the heartbreak of the disease that robbed him of his livelihood, his perception of the world around him, and ultimately his home life. MacIntyre’s history plays out within a narrative that is told through epistolary chapters weaving in his personal chronicle of gay fatherhood, objections to his family unit being considered “different” by his magazine editor, his married life with Ethan, and cherished and bittersweet childhood memories. He also writes from the internal vantage point of a frustrated man struggling with an increasingly faulty memory, the internalized terror of paranoia, the allure of suicide, and the solemn acceptance of living “with a death sentence.” As his family genetics predestined MacIntyre to acquire the debilitating disease, he writes of his mother’s plight with dementia-induced paranoia. Hirschi expands the focus and perspective of his character’s ordeal with the inclusion of Ethan’s own first-person narrative recounted both as MacIntyre’s health declined and in contemporary hindsight as a widower, years after his husband’s shocking death. Through his words, readers become acquainted with Ethan as a doting husband, the evolution of their relationship from first impressions to a cozy wedding ceremony in Italy, Amy’s birth, and MacIntyre’s crushing diagnosis and mental decline. An immensely thoughtful writer, Hirschi also allows his characters to ruminate over situations they have little control over, such as MacIntyre’s father’s remarriage and concerns over what kind of father Ethan’s new partner would be to Amy. Themes of longing, helplessness, and enduring love further inform this affecting tale, whose multiple narratives coalesce beautifully as they chronologically and touchingly document the incremental decline of a loving father and how a family must carry on despite its anguish.

A moving, compassionate, and poignant tribute to the enduring bonds of family amid disease, this account should be a must-read for anyone in the throes of an ordeal involving Alzheimer’s disease.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78645-161-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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

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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

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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

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