A satisfying romance with well-drawn characters.

THIS REMINDS ME OF US

From the St. Caroline series , Vol. 4

A devastating car accident forces a happily married couple to confront a new reality in this novel.

When Serena Irving met Oliver Wolfe at a firemen’s carnival in St. Caroline, a small town on the eastern shore of Maryland, their attraction was immediate. After a whirlwind romance, the Princeton-educated daughter of a wealthy New York family married the firefighter and settled in St. Caroline despite her parents’ objections. Eight years later, Serena and Oliver have two sons, Mason and Cam, and she is pregnant again when a car accident leaves her in a coma for four months. When she wakes, Oliver is surprised to discover Serena has no memory of the past seven years. After physical therapy, she returns to a house she does not recognize and tries to adjust to life as the mother of two young sons. She finds support from her best friend, Ashley Wardman, a photographer coping with the recent death of her husband, Ben. Oliver, reeling from the death of his mother, Angie, tries to help; but he senses something is different about his wife. As her memories return, Serena discovers she has a talent for teaching. When a letter arrives for Serena from an attorney representing Ben, Oliver suspects that his wife may have had a secret life. This fourth installment of Gabriel’s (Hearts on Fire, 2017, etc.) St. Caroline series is an appealing contemporary romance and an affecting portrait of a family recovering after a shattering tragedy. The story opens with Serena emerging from her coma. The author deftly establishes the history of Serena and Oliver’s relationship through flashbacks and their memories. The two are winsome protagonists whose romance endures despite her parents’ belief that the couple would “split up within the year.” While Oliver’s suspicions about his wife seem overblown, the subplot does allow the author to effectively explore the firefighter’s fears that the life he can offer Serena in St. Caroline cannot compete with her privileged upbringing. Readers of the series will recognize characters from the previous installments, including Becca Trevor and Jack Wolfe as well as other members of their extended families.

A satisfying romance with well-drawn characters.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9996548-9-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Serif Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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