A solid coming-of-age tale that gets teen turmoil right.

YEARNING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

A teenage girl adapts to a new home, town, and school while navigating her first romantic relationship in this YA novel with hints of the paranormal.

Sixteen-year-old Gentry never lived in one place long enough to make friends or find romance. Her father; his girlfriend, Nikki; and her brother, Rawson, are forced by financial circumstances to live with her great-aunt Tom (short for Tomasina) in Wiregrass, Georgia. Her dilapidated antebellum house is too much for the old woman to manage, so she welcomes them in, but she keeps confusing Gentry for her own daughter, Sylvie, who committed suicide at 16. Gentry dreads going to school until she meets heartthrob Legend Wallace, whom she deems a “Sirloin,” her “favorite cut of beef.” She thinks that pursuing him is futile, as he’s constantly courted by cheerleaders: “I’m always doing that—yearning for the unattainable.” He’s actually interested in Rawson; they were hiding their relationship due to small-town homophobia. Gentry participates in a fake relationship with Legend to hide his secret, but her continued infatuation makes her believe that she can somehow will him to love her. Meanwhile, Gentry starts hearing the ghost of Sylvia, who cautions her against the lie of daydreams. Soon, the living and the dead must work together to right past wrongs. Eadie (Mistaken Identity, 2013) brings several topical issues into this novel, sensitively addressing themes of sexual identity, homophobia, and suicide; regarding the latter, Sylvia is shown to be tied to her mother’s house until she resolves her own past conflict—and she sees Gentry as being on the path to a similarly heartbreaking fate. Gentry’s first-person narration is well written and rings true for a teenage girl who frequently has her head in the clouds. Aunt Tom’s Southern witticisms make her a truly standout character; her memorable one-liners include the observation that “it’s so dry the trees are bribing the dogs to whiz on them.”

A solid coming-of-age tale that gets teen turmoil right.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4809-9500-0

Page Count: 390

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2020

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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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