An easy though sometimes meandering bildungsroman best suited for dudes into cars, girls and teenage defiance.

The Little Bastards

Set in the 1950s, Lindsay’s first work of fiction follows the adolescence of Sonny Mitchell as he and his buddies get into trouble, tinker with cars and grow up bit by bit.

This coming-of-age novel set in Willamette, Ore., tours the physical, emotional and, most importantly, vehicular landscapes of the 1950s as seen by young narrator Sonny, who’s always flanked by his gang of pals. The crew never tires of living up to the name given to them by a local curmudgeon: “little bastards.” Spinning an easygoing American tale, Sonny wheels his way around a fairly charmed youth, working on farms, drooling after cars and girls, and listening to rock ’n’ roll. As he and his posse get older, they find themselves deeply obsessed with the hot rod and drag racing scenes, and much of the drama of the novel unfolds around souping up cars and competing with peers for the titles of fastest and flashiest—not that there’s too much action moving the plot forward. Rather, Lindsay prefers to ruminate repeatedly on the fun and freedom of being a hot-rodding, blue-collar boy in the ’50s, a nostalgia clearly close to his heart. Despite the lack of action, the prose is breezy, and the novel will interest readers who lived through the era, particularly car lovers and especially men. Indeed, Lindsay focuses heavily on masculinity, sometimes so much so that a whiff of misogyny seems near. The fact that Sonny has a sister is mentioned just twice, and the hormones rage unchecked; at one point, Sonny describes checking out a girl at the pool with his friends as “weighing and judging like it was a meat auction.”

An easy though sometimes meandering bildungsroman best suited for dudes into cars, girls and teenage defiance.

Pub Date: Dec. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1494356736

Page Count: 288

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2014

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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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

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