Repetitive as Chloe’s romantic experiences are, they still manage to entertain.


Fate leads to love in this realistic novel of a young woman’s adventures dating online.

Twenty-five-year-old Chloe Thompson, a first-grade teacher in Milwaukee, decides to look for love on the Internet. It’s 2003, and her newly engaged co-worker met her fiance online, so how bad can it be? If Chloe’s first date is a litmus test of the online dating pool, the answer is painfully bad. She plans to meet Scott at an Applebee’s, only to have him show up late, order chicken fingers like a child and reveal that the handsome photo of him on his profile was his senior portrait. When her ex-boyfriend Cliff calls her, she can’t resist letting him come over. She continues clicking on men’s profiles, answering icebreakers, calling strangers: There’s a firefighter who wants phone sex, an enthusiastic Packers fan, and a racist student-teacher who says he knew there was something “chinky” about her. Meanwhile, Chloe’s friends and family—from her brisk Taiwanese mother to her upstanding friend Shelly and wild Jess—offer a mix of skepticism and encouragement. Chloe is charmed when she meets Drew, a nerdy guy who sends her photos of himself in the mail to prove that his scanner is truly broken. He cooks her dinner; he’s good at Scrabble; then he reveals that he kind of has a girlfriend. The news confuses Chloe, who is struggling to avoid Cliff’s troubling advances. When Drew meets Chloe’s friends, the mix of alcohol and drama is unfitting, and Chloe’s friends convince her Drew isn’t as normal as he may seem. She’s able to move on, though, via a stream of other guys met online. On a date with Frank, Chloe bumps into her engaged co-worker, who has startling news about her now ex-fiance. Cliff’s behavior continues to frighten Chloe, leading to a final confrontation that makes everything clear for both of them. Just when Chloe thinks she’s had enough of personal ads and screen names, the advice of a psychic leads her to what could be her best match yet. Anyone who’s been on a first date will find something to sympathize with in the litany of Chloe’s experiences, from the funny to the hopeful. It’s the pain of letting go of Cliff, and all that she learns in watching her friends and family go through their own trials, that makes Chloe truly relatable. The book is thankfully not bogged down by pages of pining for the perfect soul mate. It can, however, be a bit dull reading scene after scene of Chloe and her young friends drinking to excess (several chapters open on a hung-over Chloe in her bed). The novel’s dedication page features a photo of the author’s husband—whom she met online, proving to readers that online dating can indeed lead to happily ever after.

Repetitive as Chloe’s romantic experiences are, they still manage to entertain.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499656572

Page Count: 294

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2014

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

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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