An involving, sentimental yarn of love, secrets, and relationships.

Based on a True Story

Four aging, gay male friends reunite over a Thanksgiving holiday, unearthing hidden pasts and a smoldering tragedy in Currier’s (A Gathering Storm, 2014, etc.) novel.

The author’s storytelling gifts are on full display in this tale of melodramatic entanglements between a quartet of 40-something friends as they spend a holiday reminiscing at a bucolic North Carolina mountain cabin. The country setting seems to be just what Scott and his younger partner, Aiden, need, and hosts Tom and Harley welcome them with lively conversation about coming out, old boyfriends, their past lives as college students in the big city, the downsides of aging, and their separate attempts to make peace with the loss of close friends from AIDS (the “ghostly baggage strapped to our backs”). Tom, the book’s narrator, shares his personal story of living through the bleak mid-1980s in New York City as a struggling writer, and of his longtime friendship with Scott, whom he met as a postgrad and dated. They “became better friends than lovers, kindred expatriates of unaccepting Southern families.” Things begin to get dicey when a mutual friend named Neal, a pal from Tom’s college days, is mentioned by Aiden, Scott’s lover and a die-hard Southern California urban dweller with “a clear sense of drama.” The talk reveals Neal’s abusive relationship with Aiden’s nephew Perry, which leads to a vicious plot involving obsession and murder-suicide. The violent, unsettling truth forces Tom to begin writing again and fully embrace the love he feels for Harley. Thankfully, Currier’s slim, satisfying novel isn’t overwritten or mired in exposition. Instead, it gets to the heart of the quartet’s issues quickly, creating a swift, dramatic read with plenty of poignancy regarding the plight of gay men in the age of AIDS. Fans of interpersonal dramatics will find much to savor in Currier’s deceptively simple narrative as intimate histories and close friendships mingle with explosive results. No one emerges from the mountain cabin unscathed.

An involving, sentimental yarn of love, secrets, and relationships.  

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-937627-04-1

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2015

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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