Will appeal mainly to Kingsbury devotees, as well as lovers of religious tracts…and basketball.

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THE CHANCE

Another weeper from Christian-fiction diva Kingsbury, this time featuring a prayerful NBA star and his long-lost first love.

Kingsbury appears to concede that a slavish adherence to the sterner side of Christianity can subvert that religion’s founding principles, as happens when Alan Tucker, a Marine drill instructor, casts off his wife, Caroline, after discovering she is pregnant with a lover’s child. Righteous though it may be, his implacable anger has ruinous long-term consequences. He immediately moves from Savannah to Camp Pendleton, San Diego, ostensibly to save teenage daughter Ellie from the shame of growing up near her disgraced mother and her illegitimate half sibling. (Abortion, of course, is never brought up, nor is the question of contraception.) Ellie is devastated: She’ll leave behind Nolan, her closest childhood friend, a promising basketball player whose moves are described with a sportswriter’s skill. The teenagers, both 15, are chastely awakening to love, and before Ellie departs, they bury letters confessing their true feelings under a favorite tree. They make a pact to return on June 1st, 11 years hence, to dig up the box and read the letters. Cut to the present. Caroline is raising her son, John, and writing weekly letters to Ellie, which go unanswered. Long estranged from Alan, Ellie has forsworn college, has an illegitimate child of her own, daughter Kinzie, and works as a beautician. Nolan, a superstar with the Atlanta Hawks, is far out of her league: There are paparazzi-perpetrated rumors of girlfriends galore. When Alan shows up to beg forgiveness for a shocking transgression, it’s only Kinzie’s faith that causes Ellie to relent. But as June 1st approaches, can she undo 11 years of miscommunication and bad luck? Since deus ex machina is Kingsbury’s go-to plot device, nothing, particularly redemption, is left to chance. Unfortunately, putting everything in the Almighty’s hands leaves mere mortals with little to do, which makes for tedious reading.

Will appeal mainly to Kingsbury devotees, as well as lovers of religious tracts…and basketball.

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 9781-4516-4703-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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