An experienced novelist takes her sweet time to rich rewards: overall, an affecting saga, nicely handled.

VANISHING ACTS

Well-oiled Picoult sets her latest expertly devised search-and-rescue tale in rural New Hampshire, where a kidnapping case is uncovered 28 years too late.

As usual, Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper, 2004, etc.) spins a terrifically suspenseful tale by developing just the right human-interest elements to make a workable story. Single mom Delia Hopkins works with the local Wexton police and a bloodhound named Greta to find lost children. Delia’s close relationship with her divorced, 60-ish father, Andrew, who runs a senior-citizens’ home, grows strained when he’s suddenly arrested on kidnapping charges. The victim is Delia herself, named Bethany Matthews before her father fled with her from a drunken Mexican mother in Arizona. For 28 of her 32 years, Delia has believed her mother was dead. With Andrew extradited to Phoenix, the strange history of the case unravels, complicated by the choice of Delia’s fiancé, Eric (father of daughter Sophie), as Andrew’s lawyer and the assignment of her childhood buddy Fitz to cover the case for his newspaper. Picoult is a thorough, perceptive writer who deliberately presents alternating viewpoints, so that the truth seems constantly to be shifting. When Delia finally meets the attractive, remarried Elise Vasquez, she can’t quite vilify a woman who has been sober for many years and works as a curandera (healer). Her father’s story is both suspect and understandable, especially in light of his horrific treatment in prison, caught up in the violence of rival gangs. The magnetic Eric is a recovering alcoholic who falls off the wagon when stressed, while dependable, silent lover Fitz waits in the wings for his chance. Meanwhile, Delia and Sophie make a fascinating digression into the mythical world of the local Hopi tribe. At times, Picoult goes over the top, allowing Sophie to get lost so that Greta can find her and, at the eleventh hour, inserting into the trial the possibility of Delia’s sexual abuse .

An experienced novelist takes her sweet time to rich rewards: overall, an affecting saga, nicely handled.

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7434-5454-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

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