THE CHOICE

Denker (Judge Spencer Dissents; Robert, My Son, and many, many more) alternates between medical melodramas and courtroom mayhem; this time out, Hippocrates gets the nod in a spurious but nicely corn-pone tale of a saintly physician whose little daughter gets leukemia. Dr. Walt Duncan is a brilliant young orthopedic surgeon at a university medical center, beloved by all but those of us who must read about him: he makes the lame walk, testifies at malpractice suits against inept surgeons, and is sweetly unaware that all the nurses think he's a hot number. But the good doctor is also so caught up in healing that he doesn't have much time for his wife, Emily, and young daughter, Simone; only too late does he realize that Simone's fevers and easy bruising are the warning signs of the onset of leukemia. The girl dies, and Dr. Walt is in theatrical despair: "Why is it that the children of doctors seem to be the special victims of the worst disease?" asks his buddy, wise Dr. Sy Rosen (playing the Marcus Welby role). "It's as if disease knew its enemy and was striking back." Dr. Walt finally pulls himself together when he saves the leg of 16-year-old tennis star Amy Bedford, who has bone cancer—and even keeps her boyfriend from permanent paralysis when the boy has a motorcycle accident, in the end, violins play as the curtains come down on a sadder but wiser Walt—who will now adopt an abused child and may not wear his beeper so much. Typically, all of Denker's characters here are near saints or perfect idiots, but there's enough medical gore and hospital drama interplay to keep the novel rumbling along.

Pub Date: June 1, 1987

ISBN: 068806745X

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1987

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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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