The characters’ concerns lead to some provocative ideas and discussions, which can get lost in the meandering narrative.

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BY ACCIDENT OR DESIGN

Michael, his companion Janet, their son, David, and their friends continue their adventures while searching for philosophical and scientific truth in the latest installment of Dimond’s (Return of the Light Prince, 2010, etc.) series.

Michael’s latest adventure begins at the ceremony marking the union of his close friend and confidant John Bran, better known as “Oats,” and his beloved Marmuron. The joyous occasion is also a time of curiosity and reflection as Oats is also exploring Isaac Newton’s theories of gravity and motion. Oats’ discoveries have significant implications for humanity, and he’s eager to share them with his friends. Oats and Marmuron aren’t the only ones enjoying a fulfilling union. Princess Urundayy, also known as Uri, is growing closer to her friend Herron, but she needs to be certain he’s the right one for her before she forms a union with him. Uri’s romantic dilemma coincides with an important new mission: She’s been asked to assist with the formation of a new sanctuary that will unite and protect the animal population. Michael also continues his analyses of the theories of Newton and Charles Darwin with his closest friends in an attempt to re-establish balance in the universe. Dimond’s fast-paced narrative thoughtfully explores a number of ideas and concepts. The strongest element of the novel is the concerns the characters share for understanding the universe and protecting the most vulnerable elements of society. Michael is a likable protagonist surrounded by an extensive supporting cast, including Janet and the young lovers, Uri and Herron. Dimond explores a plethora of ideas in the novel; however, many of the chapters feel truncated, ending just when it looks like a character is going to reveal a significant detail. Sharper editing could have helped refine the story’s focus and clear up confusion regarding some of the characters’ names; for example, one character is referred to as Megs, Meg and Meg’s.

The characters’ concerns lead to some provocative ideas and discussions, which can get lost in the meandering narrative.

Pub Date: March 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493135653

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2014

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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