A passionate and timely political tale that will appeal to the anti-Trump choir but likely won’t create many converts.

RULES OF RESISTANCE

A POLITICAL MYSTERY

From the Imogen & Isaiah series , Vol. 1

The murder of a “third-rate hack of a political consultant” triggers the plot of this debut novel.

Isaiah Whitman, a political activist, recalls the events that led him to a holding room at the Modesto, California, police department. He’s awaiting questioning regarding the death of Corey Strutsky, who was found shot in Whitman’s office. Whitman, who was once known as one of Silicon Valley’s “Rising Stars,” sold his business a while ago. Donald Trump’s election deeply concerned him and his twin sister, causing them to seek out “volunteer opportunities, and a path back to the nation we thought we knew.” They focused their attention on a California congressional race between Republican, white evangelical Mike Reed, and Latina community activist Sylvia Delgado, a Democrat. But they weren’t satisfied with simply making phone calls for Delgado. Whitman, a biracial man who’s long been “passing” for white, hatched an elaborate plot to pose as a supporter of Reed. He formed a political-action committee and targeted white, working-class voters who once voted for Barack Obama but swung to Trump. However, he didn’t want to win them over to Reed’s side; instead, he used deliberately racist rhetoric in order to horrify them into abandoning their Republican-voting ways. He hired Strutsky as a consultant who would “take messaging where others fear to tread.” But was Whitman using Strutsky, or was Strutsky using him? Although Hunt-Logan’s novel is billed as a “political mystery,” it reads more like an anti-Trump polemic—complete with citations to support arguments and data points. It may effectively serve as a call-to-action to non-voters who sat out the 2016 election; one character, for example, “excoriated friends who had told her they weren’t volunteering, as they ‘just weren’t that excited about Hillary.’ She said, ‘I hope they’re excited now.’ ” Still, many readers may find that the book displays more passion than it does nuance. Still, Hunt-Logan’s message is keenly felt, clearly urging readers to get politically engaged in the upcoming midterms—and beyond.

A passionate and timely political tale that will appeal to the anti-Trump choir but likely won’t create many converts.

Pub Date: July 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73247-680-6

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Skyline Ridge Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2018

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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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