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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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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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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