Overwrought, overwritten, unpersuasive.

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THE LOST GIRLS

A great concept—why women fall for Peter Pans who never grow up—with a less than great delivery.

This time out, poet/second-novelist Fox (My Sister from the Black Lagoon, 1998) focuses on Wendy, the fifth generation of Darling women to make the flight to Neverland. The Darlings are, “like all women attracted to men who charm but don’t commit, lost girls” who find it difficult to settle down to reality. Peter, with his island, free-spirited ways, and his gift of flight, will forever haunt them as they try to find men as charming but more mature. Narrated by Wendy Darling Braverman, great granddaughter of J.M Barrie’s original Wendy, the story begins as 40-ish Wendy, living in San Francisco with husband Freeman and teenaged daughter Berry, is recovering from a breakdown. Both hurt and touched by magic, she feels that her family’s visits to Neverland—maybe illusionary—have distorted their lives. Her father, who founded an airline, was a charming man who deserted his family: aging Nana, in London, is still trying to fly, and grandmother Jane has been gone for years. Since childhood, Wendy knew about the family’s rite of passage—the appearance in adolescence of a charming boy with whom she’d fly to Neverland. Peter duly appeared, but Wendy’s visit was a disturbing mix of happy and bad memories (she may have been raped by Captain Hook) that continue to haunt her. Moving between past and the present, Wendy, a children’s storywriter, recalls her childhood and marriage as she prepares daughter Berry for Peter’s arrival. Berry, deeply troubled and conflicted, is the only Darling who can’t fly, finding it increasingly difficult to live with the Darling legend. When mother and daughter are hospitalized, the appearance of grandmother Jane, dressed as an aviatrix, helps Wendy understand herself, her family, and the hold that Peter has on them all—a gift that allows the Darling women to soar above the quotidian.

Overwrought, overwritten, unpersuasive.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-1790-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2003

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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