A gritty novel that unflinchingly depicts the ravages of drug abuse.

Catch A Falling Star

From the The CASA Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A heroin addict overdoses, loses custody of her kids, and then tries to rebuild her life in this debut novel.

When she was only 15, Aleisha Turner had her first child and had no choice but to drop out of school to tend to him. She’s largely estranged from her family and has no support system, so she finds moments of escape in heroin. To finance the habit that ravages her body and mind, she works as a prostitute on the streets of downtown Toledo, Ohio. She eventually finds herself with three kids and an abusive husband. After she accidentally overdoses, the state takes her children away; the two eldest are placed in foster care, and the youngest, a baby, is taken in by Aleisha’s aunt. Aleisha is forced to enlist in a rehabilitation program, but she initially refuses to take therapy seriously; she’s overwhelmed by her hopeless worldview and has a reflexive suspicion of people who show her compassion. However, she eventually begins to make progress and clean up her life. She moves in with her older sister, Kareen Turner, and her live-in boyfriend, Leroy Jackson. But after Leroy takes a sexual interest in her, Kareen jealously throws her out, which sets her on yet another downward spiral. Meanwhile, Beverly Stone, a court-appointed special advocate, gets tasked with overseeing the care and custody of Aleisha’s children. After tragically losing her own husband in an accident, Beverly immersed herself in volunteer work and became a witness to a dark world of addiction and emotional squalor. Author Julius artfully depicts government programs that try to rescue society’s most beleaguered but inadvertently debase them at the same time. For example, when Aleisha realizes that she needs to be watched while providing a urine sample for a drug test, Julius ruefully observes the unavoidable humiliation: “Aleisha nearly said something, pointing out how demeaning the whole thing was, then realized the futility of it all. This was how the system worked so this was what needed to be done.” The prose is clear and sometimes haunting, and the story gives readers the possibility of redemption without delivering a neat, saccharine conclusion. This is a heartbreaking but authentically realistic story, told without proselytizing embellishment.

A gritty novel that unflinchingly depicts the ravages of drug abuse.

Pub Date: June 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9969607-2-4

Page Count: 314

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2016

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

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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

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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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