A tale with a realistic legal backdrop that spotlights the engrossing trials of a contentious mother-and-son relationship.

SON OF A BITCH

INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS

Caught in a sexually compromising position with one of her Mafioso clients, a bulldog attorney must call on her long-estranged, up-and-coming lawyer son to defend her at an ethics hearing in this debut novel.

Rising in the male-dominated legal world of Atlanta in the 1970s, Carter Scales earned her moniker of the “Dragon Lady” by being a force of nature in the courtroom and a stone wall against the constant misogyny she faced while defending some of the most notorious members of organized crime. This reputation follows her and her practice into the present day, but in a moment of emotional weakness, she jeopardizes it all and is caught performing oral sex on the head of the Salucci crime family in prison. Her one hope is her son, Benjamin, who struggled under her domineering influence and his own emotional immaturity yet still became a remarkably savvy and successful defense attorney himself. His contentious upbringing and deep familiarity with his mother’s history, from her divorce to the constant sexism she faced and the death of a judge she and her son wanted as part of their family, could save her career, though Ben’s interest is in getting something from Carter he’s never had before—an apology. Despite initial impressions, Sheffield’s book (inspired by real events) is no legal thriller, though the author does call on his own extensive background with the law to give readers a firsthand understanding of the wheeling, dealing, and grappling that go on among attorneys, clients, and judges. Instead of trading in empty suspense or surprise witnesses, the novel focuses on the dynamics between mother and son, the demands the former makes for her sacrifices and how the latter internalizes them, both blaming himself for what was missed and spiting her for putting her work over his happiness. As narrator, Ben is a joy, intolerably immature but well-balanced by his self-awareness and sense of humor, though it is, at times, a little odd how specific his knowledge of some of his mother’s more intimate moments is. The interactions between Ben and Carter, particularly their fights, are the novel’s strongest moments, so plausibly navigating between the hilarious and the heartbreaking in their arguments that their eventual détente feels truly hard-won.

A tale with a realistic legal backdrop that spotlights the engrossing trials of a contentious mother-and-son relationship.

Pub Date: July 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-9998366-1-0

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Michael Terence Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

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.

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more