by Joyce Carol Oates ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2009
One of this indefatigable author’s best books in some time.
The latest of Oates’ numerous collections offers 14 tales variously concerned with family relationships and crises.
Nine characteristic stories open the volume on a strong note. A married couple driving on the freeway discovers the fragility of their closeness in “Panic” when they are threatened by a school bus carrying teenagers who appear to be pointing a gun at them. “Landfill” poignantly shows a hardworking Latino family destroyed when their college-student son becomes the victim of a fraternity hazing. A young girl hideously scarred in a household “accident” seeks desperately for a way to survive and forgive her disturbed older sister in the breathlessly powerful “Special,” one of Oates’ best short works, which radiates the feeling of lived experience. In “The Blind Man’s Sighted Daughters,” reminiscent of D.H. Lawrence at his most intuitive, an embittered old man’s guilt over a crime for which he escaped punishment becomes the means by which his adult daughters put him in the emotional place he belongs and, just possibly, save themselves. Other stories focused repetitively on filial and fraternal attraction-repulsion (e.g., “Cutty Sark,” “Vigilante”) are less compelling, and the five concluding tales, primarily satirical, feel too familiar. “Dear Joyce Carol” shows a prominent author being harassed in letters by a deranged admirer who proclaims herself Joyce Carol’s rival and equal; it’s a concept Oates has used a few too many times. “Mistrial” tells the old, old story about a lonely juror attracted to a charmingly sinister defendant. “Dear Husband” is yet another companion to Oates’ novels Blonde and My Sister, My Love, channeling the story of child-murdering mother Andrea Yates into a fulsome autobiographical letter written from prison. Still, the onrushing prose and stabbing emotional intensity that are Oates’ greatest strengths imbue the volume with compulsive readability.One of this indefatigable author’s best books in some time.
Pub Date: March 31, 2009
Page Count: 336
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015
Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.
In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014
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by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2014
Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson.
Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty.Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.
Pub Date: March 18, 2014
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014
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