A poignant, elegant story about loss and the enduring power of love.



In Grant’s (Pranked, 2015, etc.) novel, a boy makes a wonderful new friend who’s terminally ill.

The unnamed narrator of this book looks back 70 years on one special day in his childhood, “Perhaps my best day.” On a holiday visit to the seashore, the young, lonely narrator feels he can’t connect with the other vacationers’ loud, confident kids, and his parents are busy with work and a new baby. But then he meets Ilio, a boy who’s two or three years older than he is. He has a thoughtful, fey quality that marks him as different from most children; it turns out that he’s dying of an incurable illness, and his last wish is “to stand at the edge of the world,” on the seashore. The boys become instant friends and spend a perfect day building a kite. This requires many steps, but Ilio is resourceful, and they’re proud of their accomplishment. As they joyfully fly the finished kite, the narrator wonders “Was the kite me? And what about Ilio?...Were he and I connected forever? And if that were true, wasn’t everyone connected to everyone else, over and over, forever and always?” The narrator, struggling with the mystery of suffering, is again reminded of connectedness when Ilio, close to death, says that “Everyone suffers. Just not at the same time.” Grant makes her story seem timeless, like a parable, and this feeling is underscored by the narrator’s namelessness. The book asks some big questions about life, death, and memory and sticks with the child’s point of view even when investigating complicated subjects. The multilayered characterization is handled well; for example, the narrator begins the book feeling oppressed by critical yet distant adults, who seem like a different species to him, but by the end, he feels real empathy for Ilio’s father. Another kind of character development occurs when the narrator tries to distract Ilio by telling a tale, showing the beginnings of his writerly talent as he discovers the challenges of composition (“How was it that anyone ever made up a good story?”) and finds ways to resolve them.

A poignant, elegant story about loss and the enduring power of love.

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73308-060-6

Page Count: 155

Publisher: Yearning Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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