A competent and earnest historical novel.


From the Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers series , Vol. 3

In this third book of a planned tetralogy, Rochester (Madrone, 2014, etc.) continues the story of Nathaniel “Nate” Hawthorne Flowers, now a promising young writer, who’s almost roped into an infamous 1970s revolutionary group.

Things are going great for Nate. Not only is he back in school at the University of California, Santa Cruz, but he’s also back in the arms of Jane Chandler, his one true love. On top of that, his short story collection has just been published. At the first stop of his book tour, in Chicago, who should show up but Tim Rosencrantz, whom Nate knew in the Air Force. Tim is now with Weatherman, the bomb-planting splinter-group of the Students for a Democratic Society. He likes to blow things up and, like Lord Byron, he’s mad, bad, and dangerous to know. Nate and Jane try to distance themselves from Tim (who later surfaces with a new name, “Jude Lennine”) but he keeps hanging around, especially at Ethereal Ranch, the gang’s hippie pad in Santa Cruz. Young Crystal has a crush on Tim, and to say that he leads her wrong is a tragic understatement. This novel is as much Tim’s story as Nate and Jane’s. He’s a wonderfully drawn character—an idealistic loner who’s conflicted about his sexual orientation, and who can be manipulative and charismatic, by turns. He is, in fact, kicked out of Weatherman because, despite his loyalty, they fear that he’s a loose cannon—so he goes rogue as a (mostly) one-man operation. Meanwhile, the FBI—which Rochester sometimes portrays as Keystone Kops-inept and other times as deadly proficientis closing in, and Nate and the others are torn between selfish fear and touching concern. Indeed, one point that Rochester makes well is that peace-and-love hippies and anarchists were arguably two sides of the same coin. The dialogue in this novel can sometimes be a bit clunky and didactic, but revolution can invite overheated posturing, after all. A preview of the next book in the series shows that Nate’s problems are far from over. 

A competent and earnest historical novel.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-62787-590-5

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Wheatmark

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2019

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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