Using his background as a 20-year Navy legal-eagle, Lane adds perfectly credible soul-searching to create an honest and...

BLINDSIDE

A sailor seeking solace while in the throes of a separation gets the ride of his life when his bedmate proves to be a trashy novelist who uses him as material, spurring the Navy to get on its moral high-horse: a true-grit follow-up to Lane’s Duty (1999).

A bar, a pat on the knee, a weekend of sex . . . it didn’t amount to much in the career of officer Neal Olen, 44, who transcended that rough patch in his marriage, became a hero for saving the life of a boy who fell overboard, and retired to a second career as a consultant for a weapons contractor. Unfortunately, though, his weekend becomes chapter six of Navy Wench, and when author Angela Vance lets slip that someone much like Neal was the model for the male character, the reaction from on high is swift. Given the possibility of security breaches, his clearances are yanked and Neal immediately loses his consulting job, but, more than that, he’s recalled to active duty in order to face a court-martial for adultery and conduct unbecoming. Hiring an ace attorney who revels in cases like his—they give her a chance to avenge those former colleagues who hounded her out of the service for being gay—Neal wins a pretrial hearing only to have the judge’s ruling overturned and the trial proceed. An unauthorized meeting with Angela brings him face-to-face with her enraged ex (to whom she was married when she dallied with Neal), who puts him in the hospital. A further adventure—a shootout that gets the ex killed—persuades Neal to live up to his code of honor and put himself at the mercy of the jury of his peers.

Using his background as a 20-year Navy legal-eagle, Lane adds perfectly credible soul-searching to create an honest and heartfelt courtroom drama of agenda-driven military intransigence at odds with personal integrity.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-882593-59-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bridge Works

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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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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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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