Connelly's first novel presents two hellish, interminable, and presumably normal days and nights in the life of an EMS paramedic. For half his shift, Frank Pierce just drives an ambulance through the streets of Hell's Kitchen; for the other half, he sits in the back with the patients en route to Our Lady of Mercy (universally called ``Misery'') Hospital. Regardless, in Connelly's hands, every emergency call blossoms into a story. Mary Foster calls 911 fearing her husband Richard is dead, and then when he turns up in the next room, fears she's dying herself. Riot, nÇ Frederick Smith, is a dwarf whose pasty makeup only accentuates the effects of his heroin overdose. Noel is a psychotic whose signal symptom is a suicidally uncontrollable thirst. Mr. Oh, Misery's worst pest, is a drunk who calls 911 more often than most people call home. As Frank makes the rounds among these lost souls, he's haunted by his own hard-case father; by Rose, the asthmatic teenager whose life he couldn't save even though he'd intubated a hundred patients without a hitch before; and by Patrick Burke, a retired veteran whose determination to die was thwarted first by his family and then by Frank, who jerked him back to life through the kindness of CPR, epinephrine, and a calcium injection. As he cautiously circles Burke's daughter Mary, who's dogging the corridors of Mercy while waiting for her father to wake up and forgive her for wishing him dead, Frank sees that she's as damaged as he himself is. But how can their relationship come to anything when Frank can't break out of his cycle of horrific memories, and when all the normal cues for climax—from the loss of love and illusion to the parody of death and resurrection—are the stuff of his everyday rounds? Don't expect a strong sense of plot or direction from this zany, painfully sensitive debut—just think of it as a nightmare to endure along with Frank until you're released by the last page. (First printing of 50,000)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 1998

ISBN: 0-375-40040-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1997

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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