High jinks ’n’ politics. Whee!

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SAMMY’S HILL

A mildly hypochondriac but sweet young senatorial aide takes everything mean old Washington can throw at her while giving her all to a possible national program to lower prescription costs for senior citizens.

Vice-presidential daughter and first-time novelist Gore can be presumed to know the lay of the land. Here, the eponymous Sammy (née Samantha) Joyce, daffy in a sorority-cutup sort of way, has cast her lot with virtuous Ohio junior Senator Robert Gary, slightly grizzled, right (that is to say, left)-thinking father of two-year-old twins. Domestic policy advisor Sammy shares a flat with a succession of Japanese fighting fish and puts in 80-hour weeks trying to wrest this great nation’s prescription drug policy from the grip of the pharmaceutical companies and put it in the compassionate hands of her straight-arrow boss. She’s busy as a bee, but finds enough time in between vital hearings and the preparation of position papers to carry on a passionate fling with devilishly handsome Aaron Driver, principal speechwriter for evilly cynical New Jersey senator and presidential hopeful John Bramer. Sammy and Aaron have become bedfellows thanks to an alliance on health matters between their bosses, which sends Sammy to lend her encyclopedic knowledge of health issues to the crafting of a landmark prescription drug bill. But, oh! What's this? The Bramer team has gutted everything important from Sammy’s draft, and Senator Gary is going to go along with it! It’s a painful lesson in political compromise, and there is further pain to come. Aaron is an awfully hard partier, and there are unpleasant, unexplained gaps in his schedule. Sammy’s best friend Liza thinks he's a rat. Many, many e-mails fly (BlackBerry gets fabulous product placement), and several more fighting fish die as political and romantic alliances form and re-form. Gore goes for a zany but sweet tone while protecting her dad’s, and maybe even her own, political viability with lots of discreet veiling.

High jinks ’n’ politics. Whee!

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-4013-5219-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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