Gritty characters solidify an intelligent story and an abstract concept.

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ENTANGLEMENT

QUANTUM + OTHERWISE

Various culprits—linked in numerous ways—become involved in murder and other illicit deeds in this debut literary/crime novel.

In 2044, Geena Nuss gets word that one of her parents is dead. The story then hops back 60 years, when Geena’s mother, Beth Sturgess, is living as a drug-addled prostitute. She escapes the life with help from Massachusetts stripper Joe Tink, who gets her a job aboard a boat. But that vessel takes her to Bermuda, where she ultimately lives with a man who, according to locals, is a slave owner and rapist. Other characters gradually enter—and re-enter—the narrative, from Beth’s eventual husband, Kevin Nuss, who’s a cop, to Joe’s lover Martin Case, a math professor. Some have multiple connections: Ellen McKinnon meets Martin at a hotel bar, but she has ties to individuals in other, surprising ways. Nearly everyone has a dark past, including someone seeking revenge and another who’s a serial killer. By the mid-21st century, Geena is alone, her family members either dead or living elsewhere. Trying to reunite with an old friend and her estranged brother, Davis, she may soon learn the essential part that physics has played in everybody’s lives. Danenbarger excels at developing characters, which considerably benefits a story of intersecting lives. Some backstories as well as the players themselves are unsettling or unsavory, though they never fail to engage. But the best moments are the links among characters via encounters and unexpected relationships. These even induce suspense: Successive chapter titles cite a “Friday” of impending doom, with a car wreck, which Kevin witnesses, that’s bound to involve established characters. While the author astutely describes quantum entanglement as a possible reason for the interconnected characters, he wisely keeps the titular concept ambiguous and the ending wide open. Nevertheless, the novel’s timeline is, in a few instances, perplexing. For example, Geena is “in her fifties” in 2044, but her parents meet in 1997; and Beth refers to a quarter century as “several years.”

Gritty characters solidify an intelligent story and an abstract concept.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-55503-4

Page Count: 380

Publisher: StormBlock Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2019

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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