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A compassionate tribute to hate-crime victims.

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Currier (The Forever Marathon, 2013, etc.) explores Matthew Shepard’s murder in richly empathetic fiction.

Currier recently unearthed his manuscript, written in the wake of Matthew Shepard’s death in 1998. Though set in a small town in the South, “This story could happen anywhere.” Rick and A.J. meet Danny, a gay college student, in a bar and beat him in their truck before leaving him for dead, tied to a fence post. Subsequent chapters bounce between back story and aftereffects, deftly interspersing hospital and police station scenes with vignettes from Danny’s everyday life. After a roadside rape and attempted suicide, Danny wonders how to be a homosexual in the Bible Belt. It is simple to hook up with strangers but impossible “To be out, open, romantically gay in a small town like this.” Written in powerful, choppy sentences and consciously patterned after screenplays and true-crime stories, Currier’s novel is told in the present tense, shifting among the perspectives of the many characters involved. Effective litanies of phrases beginning with “He will not”—“He will not see the snow. But he will feel the cold, his arms numb”—contrast Danny’s carefree activities on the day before the crime with his current incapacitation, revealing the legacy he will not live to see. One bravely cinematic chapter traces a blood sample’s journey to the laboratory. Technical and emotive languages are given equal importance: “his neural repatternings are transforming him into pure spirit”; “Cords snake around chairs, looking for outlets.” Currier’s sympathy also extends to the perpetrators, as he uncovers sexual traumas in their pasts. In a sensitive juxtaposition of Christian responses to homosexuality, the openness of Rev. Fletcher combats the intolerance of Rev. White, who brings his “God Hates Fags” message to town to boycott Danny’s funeral. Readers might find it difficult to keep the many characters straight, especially since most chapters simply open with “He” or “She,” but the large cast shows how widely a crime’s ripples extend. “The story mushrooms, grows branches” and eventually affects us all,” Currier writes. In 1998, he felt “the crime was analyzed and politicized but oddly not humanized”; here he imbues it with human warmth.

A compassionate tribute to hate-crime victims.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1937627201

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

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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