A simple but engaging story that will resonate with left-handed readers—and may open the eyes of right-handed ones.

DON'T CALL ME LEFTY

A young girl learns to appreciate her left-handedness in this illustrated children’s book from author Condi and artist Craver (N Is for Noah, 2017).

When left-handed Gracie and right-handed Scott bump elbows while drawing in Miss Kite’s class, it sends the girl into a downward spiral. Scott insists on calling her “Lefty” all day long, and to hide her embarrassment at being different, she tries to use her right hand—with awful results. Gracie also encounters a number of obstacles, including pencil sharpeners, baseball mitts, measuring cups, ice-cream scoops, can openers, measuring tape, and scissors that are all designed for right-handed users. The girl’s mother initially encourages her to use things in the right-handed way, but she also arranges for Gracie and another classmate to visit the girl’s left-handed artist grandmother, who’s more encouraging. Later, Miss Kite insightfully assigns a project to help Gracie take pride in her handedness. Craver’s pencil-and-crayon drawings have an amateurish, unfinished feel, but they ably capture Gracie’s emotions and feature classmates with skin tones that are different from the white Gracie’s. Condi uses approachable, straightforward vocabulary, and the dialogue feels authentic to childhood conversations—particularly her classmates’ mocking comments. Some scene transitions feel abrupt, though, such as how Gracie’s conversation with her mother about her day quickly turns into a list of all the tools that the youngster struggles to use; readers may also wonder why Gracie’s mother isn’t more sympathetic to her plight. Miss Kite’s innovative solution of assigning confidence-building research is sure to please, and the story’s conclusion may encourage left-handed readers to request resources for their own schools.

A simple but engaging story that will resonate with left-handed readers—and may open the eyes of right-handed ones.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4808-7856-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2019

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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