A compelling work of fiction that successfully captures the anger, frustration, and freedom of kids on the brink of...

HAMMOND

Lapoma’s (The Summer of Crud, 2018) novel tells the story of a group of misfit boys navigating adolescence in northern Buffalo, New York.

James Lombardi narrates the story of his childhood, during which he contended with a bullying clan of seventh-graders at his Catholic middle school; an angry, unforgiving father; and a gaggle of siblings. James calls his mental illness “the Darkness”; it manifested as periods of murderous “Evil Thoughts,” disembodied voices, and random violent outbursts. “A war had begun inside my head.” James reflects. “I was nine. I had no idea I was now both superhero and villain.” Still, he managed to remain focused thanks to basketball games, schoolwork, an ambitious newspaper-delivery route, and a series of mind-calming rituals to ensure sleep. He played basketball at Hammond Park with a rebellious group of outcasts that included Gerry, Tony, James, ringleader Ray, and others. They all found common ground on the courts, and as they incrementally matured over the next few years, they experimented with sex and drugs and dreamed of becoming basketball stars. Lapoma’s first-person narrative effectively and evocatively captures James’ frail emotional state as he stumbles through boyhood and his early adult years. The author is wise to incorporate moments of humor into his story, which leavens other parts of the book, such as those that focus on James’ psychologically precarious psyche. He also demonstrates a distinct knack for characterization for both his central players and peripheral ones, such as the local monsignor, who spouts expletives out a rectory window. The description of 13-year-old Luke, known among the kids as the “King of Hammond,” is also skillfully handled. Overall, this is an earnest, hardscrabble story of restless youth, mental illness, and the saving grace of sports-inspired camaraderie.

A compelling work of fiction that successfully captures the anger, frustration, and freedom of kids on the brink of adulthood.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9988403-5-2

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Almendro Arts

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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