An uneven, poorly paced debut that nonetheless shows considerable promise.

READ REVIEW

QUICKENING

A slow-moving character study of a 19-year-old girl whose plans for her life gradually fall apart.

Honor student Mandy Boyle has just won a college scholarship, and she happily envisions the endless possibilities of life away from her stifling parents and small New York State hometown. Though she has a tender (and touching) relationship with her father, she can hardly blind herself to the fact that he's a drunk and a loaf-about, horribly henpecked by Mandy's mother. Mrs. Boyle is a rare piece of work: chronically ill with lupus, anxiety disorders, and asthma, she’s also terminally disillusioned, which leads her to sexually abuse Mandy. Daughter and father retreat to the basement, where they work on projects and discuss philosophy, or they shuffle to the local bar, where Mandy studies and Dad gets drunk. Finally able to leave this behind, Mandy thrives at college until her father suddenly dies. Although she defies her mother, who wants her to quit school and get a job at the local department store, Mandy flounders when she returns to college after the funeral. She begins skipping classes, alienating friends, and spending most of her days in bed getting high. She wants someone to save her, but unfortunately the only candidate who presents himself is Booner, a drainage-cleaner living in Queens. Mandy drops out of school, moves in with him, smokes more pot, and gets a secretarial job. Her downward spiral is quick and all too plausible, as her once-bright future is reduced to waiting for Booner to come home from work. When it seems things couldn’t get worse, they do: Mandy gets pregnant, and Booner becomes frighteningly possessive. Although first-timer Brown thoughtfully illustrates how a smart girl can make bad decisions, the heroine pales in comparison to those around her. Her parents’ elegantly dismal relationship, and even Booner's life, ultimately prove more interesting than Mandy's bleak story.

An uneven, poorly paced debut that nonetheless shows considerable promise.

Pub Date: July 7, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-50373-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more