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LITTLE GIRL LEAVING

A NOVEL BASED ON A TRUE STORY

A disturbing and illuminating tale about sexual abuse.

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A debut novel offers the first-person point of view of a young girl abused and assaulted by her family.

To outsiders, Deidi might seem like a normal, quiet little girl. Her family places presents around the tree at Christmas and shares loving moments. But what Deidi has been through by the time she’s 7 years old is a litany of horrors. As this book starts, her family is about to move from a rural community to a bigger city in Washington state. She is packing up her belongings and remembering the last four years of her life, starting from 1968. Her first memory is her third birthday party, surrounded by her mom and dad; her brother, Matty; her grandparents; and her great-grandparents. It’s a joyful recollection, but there are linguistic clues that things will change. Deidi describes her father, revealing, “Mommy says he’s handsome if she’s happy.” Readers learn that Matty has violent tendencies when he kills a kitten for fun. Then they see Deidi’s father enter her room late at night. When he strips her, she thinks she’s going to be spanked. Instead, her father molests her, the first of many instances detailed in the story. Deidi’s mother covers for him, even making the girl feel responsible for his actions at times. She tells Deidi she can never tell anyone about the things her father and brother do or they’ll be taken away. Deidi doesn’t understand her predicament—she’s knows she’s been bad because of how the adults react, but she can’t figure out what she’s done wrong. The abuse is a family epidemic. Deidi’s grandfather and uncle molest her, and her father lets his friends sexually abuse her and Matty. By age 7, she has a hard time distinguishing between reality and the place she goes when life gets too painful. This novel, “based on a true story,” is a harrowing read, and it should be. Blume captures Deidi’s innocence beautifully: how she tries to be good; the inviting fantasies she wishes were reality. The terrible things she endures stand out that much more for it. The author, who works as a producer of public service media and research projects, says she hopes the book “will help adults to experience life as a very young child who needs them does.” This enlightening work skillfully does that and more.

A disturbing and illuminating tale about sexual abuse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-692-10406-4

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Illumine LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2018

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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