150 POUNDS

Two 20-something bloggers consider American women’s love/hate relationship with food in this amusing second novel from Rockland.

The story opens on the set of Oprah as Alexis (author of the Skinny Chick blog) and Shoshana (of Fat and Fabulous fame) are about to weigh in on weight. Shoshana’s blog advocates that a healthy self-esteem and healthy diet are all women need to feel good about themselves, no matter the dress size. She’s over 200 pounds, and her millions of followers, called Fatties, like her just the way she is. Alexis, barely 100 pounds, writes about America’s alarming obesity epidemic and dictates everyone should count their calories and burn their buns. After the explosive TV appearance, the two part ways and don’t meet again until a year later at the end of the novel. In the meantime, both Shoshana and Alexis come to realize that their fanaticism stems from…issues. Alexis, proud of her tart bitchiness, lives with her best friend Billy. While Billy is flamboyant and fun, Alexis lives a life controlled by weight—she weighs her food, herself, the value of others. She exercises at the crack of dawn to keep her whippet-like figure, but all that flies out the window when she meets Noah, a gorgeous, funny chef. Noah reminds her of her dead brother, and Alexis allows herself to be happy again. Less fragile than Alexis, Shoshana’s life changes when she inherits an old farmhouse and orchard. She befriends her eccentric Irish neighbor and begins restoring the property, with an eye to a new business venture. With all that manual labor, Shoshana begins to drop the pounds while pregnant Alexis begins to put them on, and the two meet in the middle. Occasionally the language lacks polish (“Shoshana had beautiful, stunning hair”) but Rockland’s study of the two women is fresh and enjoyable. Skinny chicks, chubby gals and all in between will connect to this perennially favorite female subject: how much a body should weigh.

 

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-57601-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more