Neither ironic nor suspenseful, this novel, narrated by Jack mostly in summary flashback, fails to introduce convincing...

PRESCRIPTION FOR A SUPERIOR EXISTENCE

An ambitious businessman becomes the target of a Scientology-like organization in Emmons’s second novel (The Loss of Leon Meed, 2005).

On the eve of an assured promotion, Jack Smith gets fired, falls in love with a mysterious woman and is shot by an intruder. Hours later—or is it days?—Jack wakes to find that he has not been shot, but rather tranquilized, and he is now an involuntary patient at a Wellness Center run by the Prescription for Superior Existence, or PASE. Members of PASE include the famous, the powerful, the meek and the mild, each of whom follows PASE’s command to renounce all desire for sex, alcohol, drugs, money and worldly success. PASE is recognized by the IRS as an official religion, with all attendant tax relief. But many nonbelievers—including Jack—call PASE a cult, an elaborate brainwashing hoax. Insisting that he has been kidnapped, Jack demands his release. His disruptive behavior is swiftly quashed by security guards and peer pressure. Eventually he begins to read PASE founder Montgomery Shoale’s bestselling book, The Prescription, which, it is said, was revealed to the author by the one true UR (Ultimate Reality) God. After a few days of vegetarian food, exercise, PASE counseling and a blissful stint in the Synergy Device, Jack becomes PASE’s latest convert. That’s when his troubles really begin: The woman he fell in love with turns out to be Montgomery Shoale’s defiant daughter, who wants Jack to murder her father; a radical group of deprogrammers spirit Jack from the Center to make him their star witness in a class action suit against PASE; and the UR God is calling all PASE followers “home.” Will Jack prevent a worldwide mass suicide of PASE followers—or instigate it?

Neither ironic nor suspenseful, this novel, narrated by Jack mostly in summary flashback, fails to introduce convincing characters, let alone compellingly relay their plight.

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4165-6105-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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

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