Despite a less-than-formidable villain in Huff, and a tortuously convoluted plot, there’s much to entertain and engage...



Cajuns battle Big Oil to protect their bayou patrimony in Well’s farcical fourth (Logan’s Storm, 2002, etc.).

Justin and Grace Pitre haven’t a worry in the world, except getting pregnant at the bayou “camp” left to Justin by his grandfather and wondering if Justin will ever best Grace’s record catch of a 40-pound redfish. But the forces of capitalism have no concern for the idyllic existence of a couple of Acadians, nor for the fragile ecosystem of the Louisiana bayous, where habitats are compromised by pollution, salt water inroads on freshwater swamps and the heavy footprint of the oil industry operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Tom Huff, diminutive tyrant who runs Big Tex’s oil interests in Louisiana, wants to speed up oil shipments by dredging a channel through Justin’s land. He’s also illegally dumping toxic sludge in coastal swamps, causing massive fish kills. Louisiana’s “Guv,” Joe T. Evangeline, sympathizes with a coalition of swamp rats opposing the destruction of the state’s wetlands. A reformed womanizer, he longs to court jolie-laide Julie, environmentalist attorney. He regrets accepting a bribe from Huff during a booze-fueled jaunt to Vegas. Big Tex’s rival Oka-Tex is surveilling the dumping, as is tree-hugging rabble-rouser “Dr. Duck.” Meanwhile, Tom’s new secretary and paramour Daisy is spying on him for whatever tiny segment of law enforcement is not on Tom’s payroll. Remember Justin? Through a corrupt chain of events, his father Wilson’s job and retirement are threatened, forcing Justin to cede the right-of-way to Big Tex. But he can’t resist sinking the dredging rig sent in to dig up the Camp. Now fugitives, Justin and Grace kidnap Evangeline. But Huff is about to be brought down anyway. Big Tex is fixing to sell him out, along with their Louisiana division, to Oka-Tex.

Despite a less-than-formidable villain in Huff, and a tortuously convoluted plot, there’s much to entertain and engage crawfish, jambalaya and Dixie beer aficionados, not the least Wells’ sharp ear for dialogue and his Cajun nostalgia for the “forest primeval.”

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-375-50876-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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