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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

More about grief and tragedy than romance.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet