An often engaging novel of big ideas but lacking detailed context to fully support them.


Debut author Baker presents a complicated dialogue between self-improvement and self-acceptance in this novel.

Despite being a daydreamer, teenager Jeremiah feels trapped within himself. Throughout high school, he’s tried to become part of the in-crowd and one of what he calls the “Donnigan Boys,” to no avail. In his difficult, single-minded quest for self-improvement, Jeremiah finds little solace, except in the school counselor, Tom, who has had a profound impact on Jeremiah’s outlook. But it’s Tom’s use of Myers-Briggs personality typing that brings Jeremiah to the threshold of something more. The story begins as Jeremiah nears the end of his high school career, where he’s making progress, beginning to ignore people who’ve done nothing to earn his admiration. He also becomes closer to Alicia, a fellow outcast and his one true friend. This storytelling choice allows the book to get to the meat of the plot immediately, as Tom introduces a still-unsatisfied Jeremiah to the Auralites; they run a commune of sorts and prize introspection above all else, studying their own “auras” and actively working to change themselves. However, Jeremiah seems to be arriving at a relatively healthy state of mind before he decides to spend the summer with the Auralites, which undermines the emotional stakes of his journey for readers—muddling his hard-won self-acceptance with self-improvement dogma. The epithet Donnigan Boys is presented as a term in common usage, but it remains unexplained for a substantial portion of the novel, which seems needlessly obtuse; it turns out that it’s derived from a fictional play in which the Donnigan family represents an exclusive clique. As the tone shifts between character-driven mystery, satire, and polemic, readers may find it hard to pin down exactly when the novel is supposed to take place. As a result, it’s difficult to become fully immersed in the story, as it feels a few steps removed from reality. Ultimately, though, Baker offers solid prose and strong characterization, and the overall plot is satisfying, particularly when Jeremiah begins to learn more about Tom’s past and the reasons behind his departure from the Auralites.

An often engaging novel of big ideas but lacking detailed context to fully support them.

Pub Date: March 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73280-651-1

Page Count: 348

Publisher: Eagle Cliff Press LLC

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?