There's something all too familiar about these 19 stories by first-timer Troy, and it's not just because they all first appeared in The New Yorker. Spare and quirky, these tales of love and loss, of smart kids and stupid parents, could have been written by a number of recent writers, beginning with Ann Beattie. The most memorable pieces here are four set in Florida that have the ring of autobiography. Together, they detail, from a young girl's point of view, a family's hapless trek from Indiana, with a detour in Nashville for her brother's emergency appendectomy, and their arrival in Jacksonville, where they live above a topless bar. Intending to join relatives in the Keys, the family collapses when the father dies in a construction accident. ``Family'' remains an elusive concept throughout many of these often glib narratives. The title story features an odd group of widows who fall in and out of love rather quickly. Ill-fated romance flourishes—a bachelor in his 50s pines for the girl in the trailer next door. A divorcÇe decides to marry her prison pen-pal; another teenaged boy ponders the fragility of marriage, at his sister's wedding; an 18-year-old mother sets her sights on an illegal alien; a confused 13-year-old girl has the hots for a middle-aged biker, and another late-bloomer sees all romance as disaster. The fear of loneliness plagues all sorts of couples—from the adulterer who's separated from his wife to the middle-aged gay man who senses the end of his long relationship. Three stories set in Kansas focus on a waitress separated from her loser husband. Her 15-year-old metalhead son threatens to leap from a water tower, while she's having an affair with her boss. Love, however hapless, Troy suggests, is still worth it. These mobile homes all look alike, and the same C&W songs seem to be playing everywhere. More drab prole fiction.

Pub Date: June 16, 1993

ISBN: 0-684-19369-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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.


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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