Readers valuing plot over prose will appreciate the book’s strengths.

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THE STUDENT PROPHET

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International intrigue with an inspirational twist.

In the second book of his series, Logue (The Student Prophet: Initiation Rites, 2009) creates a world where both the FBI and God find college football as important as global acts of terrorism. Jeff Fitzpatrick—Penn State sophomore, Blue Band drummer, part-time FBI agent and prophet of God—defends the Earth from the work of the Leader and his evil, archangelic cohorts the Dragon (disguised as terrorist Professor Ronald Blackstone) and Adam, now a rogue FBI agent. In this installment, Jeff gets help from two new international prophets, Jewish Rachel and Muslim Fatima, who possess his same ability to foretell tragic events. The FBI faces enemies from within and without while the prophets suspect their friends of being guardian angels and Jeff finds romance in an unexpected place. The powers of evil prepare new terrorist attacks, including some close to home for Jeff, and draw al-Qaida cells, Mexican drug cartels and even the CIA into their plot. A bevy of effusive family, friends and religious confidants supports Jeff through the challenges and dangers that come from occupying the difficult position of being a student prophet, helping him juggle school, family changes, physical danger and spiritual doubt. Though all the elements of gripping drama are present, Logue’s repetitive, clunky prose gets in the way of the suspense. Unnecessary, unnatural dialogue makes the characters feel one-dimensional. Key moments, such as fights between the forces of good and evil, are briefly narrated, wasting many opportunities for drama and excitement. Despite this, the book’s world is compelling for its mix of the strange and the familiar. Characters and their struggles are broadly relatable, even if their inner lives are too often told rather than shown. Family values, the importance of friendship and God’s constant presence are inspirational themes that could be better used in service of the author’s religious goals. However, Logue possesses an inherent understanding of what makes an action and adventure novel, and this keeps the story moving despite itself.

Readers valuing plot over prose will appreciate the book’s strengths.

Pub Date: June 30, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4327-6078-6

Page Count: 411

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2010

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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