A cross between chick-lit fare and Bridesmaids.


Bawdy, occasionally lewd and often funny, this follow-up to Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single (2009) returns us to the screwball adventures of a likable screw-up.

Jennifer has landed her man, handsome Brad Keller, heir to a Midwestern department store. The novel opens as the happy couple leaves for their honeymoon on St. Johns, where everything goes wrong. Flight delays, luggage lost and food poisoning, all in the first 24 hours, set the tone for the rest of their marriage. When they arrive home in Minnesota, Ma and Pa Keller have a surprise for the young couple—they bought them the McMansion right next door—and Mother Keller has thoughtfully decorated the whole thing in pastels and ceramic figurines. She also hired them a maid, Bi’ch, an elderly Hmong woman who lives in the guesthouse with her entire extended family. Jennifer is livid, Brad could care less, but in the end, how could she turn down a $3 million lakefront home? Then, Brad breaks the news: He and his sister, Sarah, are to compete to inherit Keller’s when their father retires. Brad and Jennifer must become the perfect church-attending, Republican-voting, golf-playing, pastel-wearing (Jennifer only) couple. With the help of her best friend, Christopher, Jennifer (a once aspiring writer, sweatshirt-wearing Everywoman) is transformed into someone who could’ve starred on Dynasty. Alas, everything always goes wrong (for a variety of reasons, not least of which is sabotage at the hands of the evil Mother Keller). Dinner guests are poisoned, bodily fluids run rampant and her $10,000 refrigerator won’t stop belittling her in Japanese. And to top it off, she and Brad don’t seem to love each other anymore, if they ever did. Next up: Operation Break the Prenup. Some of McElhatton’s conventions—the gay best friend, the endless shopping and makeover scenes—are happily redeemed by her wicked sense of slapstick comedy.

A cross between chick-lit fare and Bridesmaids.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-206439-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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