by Jodi Picoult ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 3, 2009
Picoult’s strengths are evident in her exhaustively researched and gut-wrenching demonstration of OI’s devastating effects...
In another issue-driven novel, Picoult (Change of Heart, 2008, etc.) explores the impact of “wrongful birth” litigation on an ordinary New Hampshire family.
Charlotte O’Keefe, a prominent pastry chef, was thrilled when she conceived at age 38 without resorting to fertility treatments. Although she has a daughter, Amelia, by a previous relationship, she and her new husband, police officer Sean, wanted a child of their own. Charlotte’s best friend Piper unwisely agrees to be her OB-GYN. Eighteen weeks into the pregnancy, during a routine ultrasound, Piper, looking for signs of possible Down syndrome, discounts the import of the fetus’s unusually transparent cranium. At 27 weeks, another ultrasound reveals that Charlotte’s daughter has sustained several fractures in utero, a sign that she suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a rare congenital defect that causes brittle bones and severe complications (including scoliosis, respiratory problems and years of costly orthopedic interventions). Now age six, Willow, still toddler-sized, cannot walk, play or even turn over in bed without risking a compound fracture. Charlotte abandoned her career to care for Willow 24/7. Although Willow is precocious intellectually and for the most part a joy to be around, her illness is, inarguably, a drain on family finances and emotions. After a vacation at Disney World goes horribly awry, the O’Keefes spiral apart. Charlotte decides to file a wrongful-birth lawsuit against Piper. The proceeds from the lawsuit, she rationalizes, would provide the quality of lifetime care Willow needs, even if suing amounts to betrayal. Sean is appalled by the implications of the lawsuit: that Willow should never have been born, and that Charlotte, if properly cautioned, would have contemplated abortion. Amelia, once a normal teen, becomes a bulimic, self-mutilating shoplifter.Picoult’s strengths are evident in her exhaustively researched and gut-wrenching demonstration of OI’s devastating effects and the impact of a child’s disability on a sibling. However, too often characterization takes a back seat to polemic. Worse, the central moral quandary is undermined by an overly pat resolution.
Pub Date: March 3, 2009
Page Count: 480
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
A strict report, worthy of sympathy.
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
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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