A comforting and moving character-driven tale.

5 O'CLOCK SHADOW

Lenfestey (A Mother's Conviction, 2015, etc.) offers readers a charming novel about family.

Claire Tillman’s life is falling apart. Couples counseling isn’t working, and her husband of 12 years, Ben, is ready to throw in the towel on their relationship. She quickly finds herself feeling like she has little to hold onto in life aside from the fulfillment she finds in her job as a high school social-studies teacher: “My students are my kids.” But when she finds Jaxon, one of those students, sleeping in his car, she’s truly spurred to action for the first time in years. The emotional core of the story is strong, and the prose is solid, with a dependable flow that allows the characters and their feelings to take center stage. Jaxon has grown up without a father, but now that he’s graduating high school and heading to college, he wants to meet his missing parent; he’s so fervent in this wish, in fact, that it’s caused conflict with his mom, who’s kicked him out of the house. Claire helps Jaxon in his search, and the two develop a real friendship. Meanwhile, she finds herself questioning her memories of her own father, who supposedly died in a car accident when she was young. The story strongly explores how personal history is never as simple as it first appears, and as it progresses, new perspectives—such as that of Jaxon’s possible father, who’s struggling with a loss of his own; and that of Hope, Claire’s half sister—complicate the main characters’ needs and wants. Ultimately, this is a story about relationships, and the author deftly balances disparate personalities, particularly in dialogue. What’s more, the message that the answers to people’s problems lie in human connection feels genuine. The characters’ lives may not be turning out as they planned, but that makes their journey toward solace all the more satisfying.

A comforting and moving character-driven tale.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5370-6549-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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