Our heroine’s dangerous romance with the “wrong man” is engaging enough, though Porter’s examination of domestic abuse is...



The second in Porter’s Brennan Sisters trilogy focuses on Kit: single, almost 40 and wondering when it will be her turn to have it all.

In the large Brennan clan of San Francisco firefighters, police officers and nurses, Kit, an English teacher at a Catholic school, is the designated good girl. She is the peacemaker, the caretaker and the occasional doormat. Having just ended a long relationship that didn’t include marriage, children or passion, Kit is thinking about adopting a child. This news sits poorly with her conservative friends and family, who want her to do it the old-fashioned way. She would too, but the men out there! First, there is Michael Dempsey, handsome and clean-cut, but their first date is disastrous. He is controlling and crude and then lets drop he’s actually married. Then there is Jude Knight, a mystery man she met while at her family’s Capitola beach house. He has the look of a romance-novel hero (long hair, taut muscles, cheekbones that betray his Native American heritage) but the tattoos and motorcycle of a bad boy, and Kit could never bring him home to her family. A week after their date, Michael Dempsey appears in Kit’s class; he has reconciled with his wife, and his stepdaughter Delilah is now enrolled at the school. Although Kit imagines Delilah’s life is strained (on their date, Michael confessed to hating his mouthy stepdaughter), she has no idea the extent of the abuse; but Jude Knight does: He’s Delilah’s next-door neighbor, and he gets a nightly earful of the fights, screams and punches. When Delilah gets in trouble at school, she calls Jude, and he and Kit reconnect. Will Delilah get away from her abusive stepfather? Will Jude win Kit over? Is naming the romantic hero Knight going a bit too far?

Our heroine’s dangerous romance with the “wrong man” is engaging enough, though Porter’s examination of domestic abuse is too lightly handled.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-425-25342-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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