An uplifting reading experience.



A heart-wrenching tale told with true wisdom and a brilliant wit that morphs into a heartwarming and inspiring experience.

The book opens with Queenie Wake getting fired from her job as a chef at a Manhattan hotel restaurant. She has been through similar failures in cities across the country from Los Angeles to New York, always on the run, but this time she decides to head back home to North Star, Texas. Growing up in North Star, Queenie and her older, loving sister were doomed to inherit the disdain of the community due to a mother known as the town harlot and a completely absent father. Their mother was killed when Queenie was 16, and she still harbors mixed feelings about the neglectful mother’s untimely death. She returns home to cheer when her sister’s son debuts as the star quarterback on the high school football team, but she is not really certain she will stay. Once there, she reconnects with the love of her life, whose marriage to a socially more suitable woman, selected for him by his upper-class parents, is the reason Queenie left North Star in the first place. On the career front, she gets a job cooking last meals for death row inmates at the local prison. This job will lead her into one of the most moving and inspiring scenes any writer could possibly imagine and thence to the happiness that she craves and deserves. Along the way, Queenie will witness, and sometimes influence, positive changes in the lives of other residents of North Star. Palmer (More Like Her, 2012, etc.) demonstrates a remarkable grasp of human psychology. Her running interior monologue is so funny and real that the reader quickly relates to Queenie. The dialogue is equally real, and each character comes alive with his or her own distinct voice. The excellent use of language and metaphor makes several long back stories feel short, and the author handles the complex connections with superb skill.

An uplifting reading experience.

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-200747-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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