A basic boy-meets-girl debut that’s unfortunately tarted up with outlandish characters who sound like dropouts from an indie...



Picaresque debut about the crooked path of a true love between two unlikely people in an unlikely place.

Ruby Falls is an arty LA glam-girl, an animator who works on a children’s cartoon series and lives in the guesthouse of an aging porn queen named Jeannie, whose Laurel Canyon homestead is a kind of low-rent San Simeon—full of dogs, perverts, and artists of various stripes. Ray Rose is a divorced Florida construction worker who inherited a rather grand house from a total stranger who picked his name out of a telephone book. Where will Ray and Ruby’s paths cross? In Alaska, actually, where they both go to get away from some bad stuff. What kind? We’re told at the start that Ray killed a man (though we don’t get the details right away) and that his most recent wife left him a few months ago. As for Ruby, she came home one night to find that an intruder had shot all of Jeannie’s dogs, then raped and killed the dog-walker. Plus, she has lately given up on her Iranian boyfriend. So there’s plenty to forget on both sides. In Alaska, Ruby climbs mountains and Ray moves into a small campsite, where he finds work as a handyman and carpenter. The two meet in a bar and fall in love, but in between their bouts of kayaking and lovemaking, both find themselves still troubled by the darker shadows of their past lives. Eventually, they work the shadows, only to find that the present holds troubles and griefs of its own.

A basic boy-meets-girl debut that’s unfortunately tarted up with outlandish characters who sound like dropouts from an indie sitcom and that suffers from workshop prose (“Early mornings are all about the ax, chainsaw, stump grinder, and tractor”) as thick as treacle.

Pub Date: March 18, 2004

ISBN: 1-58234-398-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2004

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.


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

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