An adeptly constructed Holocaust work based on family history.

TUTTI'S PROMISE

A NOVEL BASED ON A FAMILY'S TRUE STORY OF COURAGE AND HOPE DURING THE HOLOCAUST

Fishman dramatizes her mother’s World War II survival story in this debut novel.

The Netherlands, 1940. German forces have crossed the Dutch border and are seizing control of the country. The family of 5-year-old Ruth “Tutti” Lichtenstern—German Jews who had moved to Amsterdam in hopes of escaping Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies—attempts to live normally, but the clan soon gets wind from a friend that Hitler has big changes planned for the Netherlands’ Jewish businesses: “First, the firms will have to register,” and once Germans “are in control of the companies, they will ship the Jewish workers and owners to Poland.” Tutti notices changes herself: she is forced to attend a new school exclusively for Jewish students, and she must wear a yellow star whenever she is outside the house. At first, Tutti’s father’s position in the metals industry protects the family from deportation—though it doesn’t save her grandparents, who are collected during a Nazi raid. Despite her father’s efforts to keep them safe, the Lichtensterns are caught on a terrible path that leads them to the Westerbork transit camp. While there, Tutti’s father tells her he’s hidden some money in her doll and that she must keep that fact a secret (“ ‘I promise,’ she told him solemnly. ‘I’ll take care of her…and I won’t tell anyone’ ”). Eventually, the Lichtensterns are sent to Theresienstadt. After the long years of their deteriorating situation, Tutti attempts to keep a vow to her mother: “To always try to do good in the world—by speaking up when you see evil, and by behaving in a way that you know is right.” Fishman tells the tale of her mother’s family with elegance and a great sense of suspense. The choice to novelize the account, rather than present it as pure nonfiction, helps to flesh out the characters in a way that makes them more fully realized on the page. Photographs of Tutti and her family are featured throughout the work, reminding the reader that the events being recounted really happened. While some of the material will undoubtedly be disturbing for younger readers (the book jacket recommends ages 10 and up), the novel expertly captures the gradual creep of government-driven persecution in a way that should help children internalize Tutti’s story.

An adeptly constructed Holocaust work based on family history.

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9908430-1-6

Page Count: 232

Publisher: MB Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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