Nice dialogue and pacing by Goldstein and Stuart (The Mentor, 1999) keep this Nanny clone racing along.

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24-KARAT KIDS

This summer's Nanny Diaries features a newly minted pediatrician working among the wacky rich on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

When Shelley Green, a “schlumpy girl from Jackson Heights,” accepts a position at Madison Pediatrics, she suspects her world is about to change, and not just because she's surrounded by svelte doctors wearing Chanel suits and Manolo Blahnik heels. Among those she meets are parents asking for a letter of recommendation—for a 15-month-old; a formerly famous folksinger who refuses to change her daughter's diapers because “they mess with my muse”; and a plastic surgeon hoping to trade services (“You take care of my daughter in return for two procedures”). Along with the bizarre requests, Shelley tries to identify the mysterious ailment of 12-year-old Alison Young, whose mother recently died of a cerebral aneurysm. Are Alison's symptoms a manifestation of grief, or something else? As Shelley consults with specialists and considers the possibilities, she spends her weekends in the Hamptons as a trophy live-in pediatrician. There she meets hunky Josh Potter, for whom she dumps her staid fiancé Arthur, until the anti-Semitism of the Hamptons rears its ugly head. “Did you get a load of Josh Potter's new meal ticket? I wonder where they met—a B'nai Brith mixer?” No surprises here: Readers know that Shelley will ultimately reject the superficial Upper East Side culture (and Josh) to return to her roots—and walking tours of Brooklyn with Arthur—but not without a drastic weight loss, a chic new haircut and designer duds of her own.

Nice dialogue and pacing by Goldstein and Stuart (The Mentor, 1999) keep this Nanny clone racing along.

Pub Date: June 13, 2006

ISBN: 0-312-34327-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2006

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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