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As usual from Berger (Isabelle, 1998, etc.), a deceptively simple tale—here, about a day in the life of a homeless couple and their German Shepard, on whom they rely—turns into a thing of eloquence and beauty, with tragedy and humanity evident in equal measure. King is the dog; he tells the story of his people, Vica and Vico, and the semblance of normality the three of them have brought to a homeless existence. Having joined a community of homeless in a trash-strewn wasteland, which they call Saint ValÇry, at the edge of a city and on the verge of a bustling motorway, like the others Vica and Vico constructed with painstaking care a home out of the refuse, a home that like the others reflects something essential of their personalities. From there they make their daily foray into town, to sit on the sidewalk and hawk the radishes they have grown to sell. Vica also makes a foray for water, taking it from a gas-station bathroom and trying to outwit the owner who would deny it to her. And in quiet moments they all dream, of who they were and who they might become again. King is a full partner in the adventures as well as in the dreams: he understands their thoughts, and they understand his. He is also the companion and watchdog of the community, from Jack the Baron, its leader and guardian, to Danny the jokester and the elderly Corinna. When darkness falls on this day, however, Saint ValÇry is facing obliteration, as soldiers and equipment move in to reclaim the site for development. King does what he can to aid those who resist, including Vico, who takes a knife to the officer in charge, but in the end resistance is futile and they are all truly homeless once more. Spare and dreamlike, yet for all its delicacy harshly real: a story that opens a window on a world easily ignored, and makes its case long after the last page is turned.

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-375-40556-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1999

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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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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