A rich, deeply felt novel about family ties, immigration, sexual longing, faith, and desire. Simultaneously raw and luminous.

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FIEBRE TROPICAL

In U.S.–based Colombian author Delgado Lopera's coming-of-age novel, a 15-year-old Colombian girl struggles with her identity and her burgeoning sexuality.

Dragged unwillingly from Bogotá to Miami, crammed with her mother and sister into her grandmother's apartment at the Heather Glen Apartment Complex, Francisca misses her friends and her former life. But she can't go home, because "this wasn't a Choose Your Own Migration multiple-choice adventure." In a scene early in the book, her mother insists on baptizing a child she miscarried 17 years before, using a plastic doll from a discount store as a stand-in baby. Manic one moment and sad the next, Mami has joined the Iglesia Cristiana Jesucristo Redentor, an evangelical Colombian church in "a stinky room in the Hyatt Hotel nobody cared to vacuum." In the car on their way there, the doll stares at Francisca with a fixed, plastic smile. "Are you happy now, asshole, I wanted to say....You're still dead, pendejo." With a whip-smart, unapologetic voice peppered with Colombian slang, Francisca pulls us into her new life in "Yanquilandia." Trouble arises when she meets Carmen the pastor's daughter, who wants her to accept Jesus into her heart. Francisca imagines God in "a dentist's waiting room checking in with the receptionist every so often, Did Francisca receive my son in her heart yet? (said no God ever)." Instead, she finds herself falling in love with Carmen, threatening her family's tenuous place in the immigrant community. Though the plot revolves around a coming-out story, the great strength of Delgado Lopera's writing lies in its layered portrayals of these characters and their world. "Women in my family possessed a sixth sense...from the close policing of our sadness: Your tristeza wasn't yours, it was part of the larger collective female sadness jar to which we all contributed."

A rich, deeply felt novel about family ties, immigration, sexual longing, faith, and desire. Simultaneously raw and luminous.

Pub Date: March 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-936932-75-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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