THE PRICE OF LAND IN SHELBY

Plowing through years of accumulated resentments and frustrations within a Vermont family, second-novelist Alberts (Tempting Fate, 1987) touches every grim aspect of backwoods New England reality as the offspring of a damaged marriage grow up in the shadow of their mistreatment as children. The Chartrains are in pitiful shape in the early '70s: Mom has cancer and sleeps all the time, Dad has a drinking problem and can't hold a job, and they live with their five kids in a half- finished house on land given them by her father. Dad has a heavy hand with the children as well, especially with his only son, Mitchell, who runs away to Maine as soon as he can, then joins the service. Eventually, he comes home, surviving on a series of short- term, undemanding jobs. Of Mitchell's sisters, daredevil Donna gets pregnant at 14 and has an abortion; Nancy, the youngest, barely escapes being sexually abused by Dad when Mom finally dies; Sally goes to live in Virginia but then returns, marries and divorces an abusive husband, and raises her two girls alone; Marsha, the oldest and most responsible, dies young, in an Easter accident caused by her drunken husband. Mitchell, meanwhile, has married and fathered three and begins making money in the '80s by dealing cocaine, but he gives it up when he finds himself addicted and increasingly abusive to his kids, like his father before him. He makes a fresh start with his family on the Maine coast, where he hosts a gathering with his sisters in an attempt to bring closure to their painful, discordant pasts. Drink, drugs, abuse, death, and redemption—it's all here, neatly packaged in a single generation of a hardscrabble family: The details are convincing enough, but unlike the novels of Carolyn Chute, the larger picture lacks the strength and breadth to transcend the commonplaces of a straightforward family chronicle.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 1996

ISBN: 0-87451-782-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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