by Joseph Cools ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 29, 2014
An enjoyable, if slightly implausible, account of four friends who face unimaginable tragedies yet maintain their sense of...
In this novel by a forensic and rehabilitation psychologist, four women cope with serious challenges during their journey from college to grandmotherhood.
Sarah Brightenham awakens from her coma to find a strange woman in a candy striper uniform in her hospital room claiming to be awaiting the arrival of the patient’s sister. Nicole Fielding, as it turns out, is in the same literature class as Sarah and is eager to prevent her from being forced to enter the psychiatric ward after her overdose. Nicole enlists the help of Rebecca Trumble to pretend to be Sarah’s sister and caretaker. Nicole and Rebecca introduce Sarah to another friend, Clair Coleman. As the four women share their stories and plot revenge on football player Bo, who raped Sarah (precipitating her suicide attempt), they forge a friendship that will last throughout their lives. As each woman encounters a life-altering event, their bond deepens as the other three help her through the catastrophe. Eventually, they add husbands and children to their group, with Clair’s and Sarah’s families later united through marriage. All four women are successful in their chosen fields. But Clair’s three cohorts find her obsessive mothering alternately annoying and lifesaving, as her common-sense approach helps Rebecca discover the truth behind a psychotic break. The engrossing tale concludes as the four women travel first to New York City and then England together to find closure to the biggest crises they have dealt with. The character development is slow in Cools’ (Sometimes a Father, 2017, etc.) novel. With the exception of Sarah, whose story is the first one to be told, the other three women are virtually indistinguishable until they become the focus of the narrative. Even then, Rebecca’s and Nicole’s tales (attempted murder by a vengeful former boss, and the amputation of a foot due to diabetes, respectively) pale in comparison to Sarah’s and Clair’s gripping stories of abuse and loss. Some of the dialogue among the women is too contrived and unrealistic while the endlessly supportive yet one-dimensional spouses stretch credulity (perhaps because all four are improbable dream husbands).An enjoyable, if slightly implausible, account of four friends who face unimaginable tragedies yet maintain their sense of fun.
Pub Date: March 29, 2014
Page Count: 362
Review Posted Online: April 23, 2018
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
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
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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