An engaging tale about a singular friendship that gives voice to the struggles of the sightless.


A friendship reveals the daily challenges faced by the blind and leads to a long relationship in this debut autobiographical novel.

John Kwan suffers blindness and abandonment when very young yet he carries “on with his life with great dignity and optimism.” The plight of the sightless (John’s preferred term) is especially difficult in Hong Kong, as the fast-paced society lacks accommodations for this group. His life consists of “trying to survive from one day to the next, and often at the mercy of other people.” Therefore, when a young man named James meets John at La Salle College in Hong Kong in 1962, he is intrigued that a sightless student attends a regular school. Lacking volumes for the sightless, John manually transcribes his own Braille textbooks from someone reading aloud. This is time consuming and limits his ability to study since Braille only works with English and is impractical with more technical subjects like chemistry and math. By nature a compassionate person, James helps him on Saturdays until he leaves for the University of Hawaii in 1965 and John starts a job working as a phone operator. Inspired by their friendship, James becomes a retinal specialist. John achieves his own celebrity by publishing an acclaimed memoir, Diary of a Blind Orphan. When they reunite 25 years later, James sees the change in his friend from “the lonely, struggling young orphan he had been” to an “accomplished family man.” In Hung’s engrossing novel, the two men’s vivid parallel journeys prove that both the sighted and sightless encounter problems but have the means to achieve happiness. The story excels when it insightfully points out abilities many readers take for granted. For instance, the author skillfully contrasts the ease of learning the periodic table when students can actually see the relationships between elements with the daunting task of memorizing the data from verbal recitations. The rambling tangents about other classmates are unnecessary and will distract the audience from being drawn into the intriguing hurdles and victories of John’s life that effectively show great strength of character.

An engaging tale about a singular friendship that gives voice to the struggles of the sightless.

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-58603-8

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.


A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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