A nostalgic portrayal of social upheaval in the 1960s that’s sure to strike a chord with those who lived it.

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AFTER JUNE

In this novel set amid the looming threat of the draft in the 1960s, small-town teens create their own revolution as they take on their local radio station’s narrow-minded refusal to play Motown records.

In 1965, Lake Calloway, a small tourist town in northern Michigan, has managed to remain sheltered from social and political tensions that have been rising across the nation. But as Cooper, Eddie, Mike and Dennis look forward to the commencement of their senior year, they have no idea that things in their provincial town are about to be shaken up. The arrival of the town’s first black family brings latent racial tensions to the surface not only for their son, Victor, also a senior, but also for the boys who enthusiastically welcome him into their little crew. Meanwhile, evidence of a budding sexual revolution and use of the birth control pill become apparent when the school hires a young home economics teacher, Janet Carlsen, to incorporate sex education into Lake Calloway’s curriculum for the first time ever. As the school year begins, Eddie’s biggest concern is getting his boss at the radio station to loosen the reins on the heavily regulated list of preapproved rock songs Eddie is allowed to play; he’s eager to play some Motown, which is currently prohibited because it’s made by black artists. But when the boys turn 18 and receive their draft cards, they can no longer remain neutral on growing social and political movements. Victor helps his friends understand that sharing the contraband records over their small-town airwaves could actually ignite a much-needed revolution in Lake Calloway. Though Heininger’s debut novel offers a vibrant, memorable cast of well-developed characters, it’s unclear who the intended audience is; young protagonists and the high school coming-of-age setting suggest a YA audience, yet the novel is steeped in the type of nostalgia more suited to the crowd who actually experienced the 1960s. Furthermore, the framing of a sultry affair between Miss Carlsen and one of her students—“Cooper had suddenly been transported into teen-boy heaven”—as part of a social, political, racial and sexual revolution neglects to address some of the subtler implications of a sexual relationship between teacher and student, which may leave readers feeling a bit unsettled.

A nostalgic portrayal of social upheaval in the 1960s that’s sure to strike a chord with those who lived it.

Pub Date: March 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4929-2375-6

Page Count: 226

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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