A somber but meritorious tale that profoundly examines a subject affecting adolescents and adults alike.


A 16-year-old girl’s sudden disappearance gradually exposes grim secrets in this YA novel.

When Jenna Kemp goes missing, her friends and family are understandably shocked. But more unfortunate surprises quickly come to light. The Wisconsin teenager had been a straight-A student, but in the weeks prior to her vanishing, she was so troubled she turned to drugs and drinking. Jenna’s mother, Bonnie, learns that her daughter had no longer been hanging out with longtime friends Keeley Simon and Delaney Burns. Jenna had likewise split with her boyfriend, Dustin Bock, and seemingly confided only in Leighton Pierce, the new girl in school. But there are things about Jenna even Keeley and Delaney don’t know, which ties to the disturbing diary entry of Jenna’s that Bonnie read, a violation of privacy that impaired the mother-daughter relationship. Something dark from the teen’s past had recently resurfaced and ultimately led to her change. While cops investigating Jenna’s disappearance have their eyes on a person of interest, Keeley, Delaney, and Leighton peruse the teen’s diaries dating back several years. They hope to find evidence of what happened to her in the past, something the girls already suspect and that may lead to Jenna’s current whereabouts. It won’t take long for readers to decipher Jenna’s traumatic event, though Farnham (A Case of Serendipity, 2018, etc.) doesn’t try to keep it a mystery. Nevertheless, the teen’s fate is unknown until the end, which helps the story retain tension for its entirety. The author achieves this with a potent nonlinear narrative that oscillates predominantly between two time periods: the months and weeks before Jenna vanishes and days after she’s gone. Farnham masterfully dramatizes the serious subject matter; Jenna is a victim who’s alternately withdrawn and combative, and she remains sympathetic throughout. The prose reflects the story’s frequent gloominess. Believing she could have done more to help her friend, Keeley broods: “I swallow the guilt that’s creeping up my throat, ready to choke me.”

A somber but meritorious tale that profoundly examines a subject affecting adolescents and adults alike.

Pub Date: April 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73228-322-0

Page Count: 358

Publisher: K. J. Farnham Publishing LLC

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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