An often pleasing combination of romance and suspense.

Ripples

A principled young journalist in the early 1990s tackles the case of her career in Lew’s debut novel.

Newspaper reporter Ariella Richardson meets the handsome, formidable Dr. Sam Becker when she interviews him about his breakthrough research on cervical cancer. Becker has a severe dislike of the media, but Ariella’s honesty, intelligence, and beauty breaks through his reserve. Ariella wants to specialize in women’s health stories and she covets the role of lead reporter on the health beat for the Boston Times. Thanks to her connection with Sam, she finds herself on the trail of two big stories involving the tobacco industry’s funding of cancer research and the horrifying murder of a pregnant woman. An interview with one of Sam’s test subjects leads Ariella to the realization that the murder suspect currently in police custody is likely innocent of the crime—and another doctor involved in Sam’s research may hold the key to finding the real killer. Sam struggles with Ariella’s willingness to place herself in harm’s way, and Ariella must decide whether she’s willing to sacrifice her personal life for her career. Lew’s novel offers a snapshot of several diverse Boston neighborhoods of the 1990s, but she also touches on social issues that are still in the news today, including women’s health, racial bias in law enforcement, and potentially explosive socioeconomic and racial tensions in society. She also highlights how some issues were still debatable in that era, such as whether the human papilloma virus has a connection to cervical cancer. Lew manages to tie several different narrative threads together while keeping the focus on Ariella and her relationship with Sam. Ariella is a spunky character who retains her independence despite Sam’s tendency toward control. Her naïveté, his temperament, and the power dynamic in their relationship smack of a Fifty Shades of Grey-like scenario. That said, Lew resists the urge to let Sam run the show, keeping Ariella at the center of the story.

An often pleasing combination of romance and suspense.

Pub Date: May 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9973533-1-0

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Tortoise Shell Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2016

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

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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

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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