An engaging reflection on friendship during turbulent times.

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Stone’s debut historical novel tells a story of the tumultuous Vietnam War years—from the battlefield and from the Australian homefront.

In 1956, just a few months shy of his daughter’s sixth birthday, Catherine Mary Moreton’s father deserted his wife and young daughter. Her mom packed up their clothes and, with Catherine in tow, left Melbourne, Australia, to live with her parents in Sydney. Now it’s November 1967, and Catherine is waiting to hear if she has been accepted to a university. Her mother declares that Catherine must get a job for the intervening months—and she’s found her a position in a Kings Cross record shop. The sheltered teenager, who was raised in Catholic schools and under the constant supervision of her mother and grandmother, finds herself spending her days in Sydney’s raunchy nightclub district, where she forms an assortment of diverse friendships. Stone, through Catherine’s narration, gives readers an intriguing inside view of her character’s journey from teenager to adult over the next three years. Working at the record shop and as a waitress at La Tête-à-Tête café, she meets many young American GIs who cycle in and out of the city during short leaves from the war: “We had no history, not even that of growing up in the same country,” Catherine notes, “but more often than not, a feeling of familiarity and comfort swaddled our conversations and spilled over into letters once they got back to Vietnam.” Those letters, interspersed throughout the narrative, are an integral part of the story; inspired by correspondence that the author herself received, they effectively reveal the hopes, fears, loneliness, and philosophical musings of young men fighting a war far away from home, unsure of their futures. These are deftly juxtaposed against Catherine’s own search for direction and purpose as she takes her first tentative steps toward independence. Stone only minimally develops her secondary characters, but she still manages to present readers with a poignant, vivid microcosm of a society in the throes of change. A useful glossary defines Australia-specific terminology, such as “Brollie: umbrella” and “Prang: a crash involving a motor vehicle.”

An engaging reflection on friendship during turbulent times.

Pub Date: March 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-47524-0

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Bowker identfier

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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