Moments of fine observation amid bewildering disequilibrium.


A contrived debut about an emotionally confounded young woman trying to find her mother.

Casey Maywood’s mother, a former Winter Queen, always wanted to be a movie star—more than she wanted to be a mom, apparently, because in 1995 she abandoned her young daughter and husband in Two Harbors, Minn., and ran off to Hollywood, leaving barely a trace. The scandal surrounding mom’s abandonment damaged Casey’s relationship with her passive father. By the time Casey is 19, a film student and fledgling actress, it’s time to find some answers about her mysterious, mentally unstable mother, who taught her daughter to act the part of the lover without ever allowing herself to fall in love. Too late for Casey, who has just met the new guy in town, Dex Stone, from L.A., at the screening of an indie film called Two Harbors. The lovers only have a few months together before Dex is killed on a return flight to Duluth from L.A.; and when Dex’s younger brother, Kevin, asks Casey to come out to the funeral in Hollywood, she accepts, thinking this a perfect opportunity to hunt for her lost mother. The plotting grows increasingly far-fetched as the novel melds into the Two Harbors film, involving the brothers’ Gatsby-esque father and his actress girlfriend, whom both sons seemed to have shared. Casey comes up with some clues to her mother’s disappearance at a strip club, plausible enough until Benson forcefully ties the whole charade up in an incredible knot. The rich, entitled brothers have few distinguishing characteristics, while Casey is a vulnerable, dreamy, sad character whose mother seems to have robbed her of a true identity: “Aren’t we all just actors looking for the same break?” one character asks of Casey.

Moments of fine observation amid bewildering disequilibrium.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-15-603124-8

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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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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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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