THE RETREAT

Didactic novelist Denker (Kinkaid; Judge Spencer Dissents; Robert, My Son; The Choice) takes a detailed look at the Palm Springs approach to detoxificaton. Beautiful, talented, alcoholic Broadway star Kitzi Mills doesn't really want to take the cure, but her closest associates have told her that they've taken all they're going to take, so she caves in and flies out to Palm Springs in the company of her agent and former lover Marvin Morse. Morse is also the father of Kitzi's daughter Alice, but he married a publicist years ago when Kitzi seemed to have succumbed to the unpleasant charms of an elderly Hollywood director. Kitzi checks in to The Retreat, which seems to be pretty much like Betty Ford's celebrity sanitarium, but she reacts badly to the required participation in group therapy. There's a lot she doesn't want to tell, and she finds the endless gut-spilling most trying. Eventually, however, she begins to respond to individuals in the group—particularly to an addicted basketball star and a crusty old reporter whose cure is interrupted by a diagnosis of lung cancer. It takes the full four weeks for Kitzi to get to The Root of It All and then admit that she needs help. A little simple-minded, definitely not for the cynical, but not to be dismissed—its Hollywood approach to the treatment of addiction may well be the way reach people in need of the message.

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 1988

ISBN: 1558173145

Page Count: 446

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1988

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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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