A mostly breezy read that sheds light on one woman’s relatable struggle.



Debut author Holder offers a novel about an abused young mother’s quest to survive.

In June 1967, Liz Harmon tells her husband, the drunken Ron, that she’s leaving him. He responds violently, forcing her to flee with her two young children—bloodied, missing a tooth, and afraid. Fortunately, she’s able to move in with her boss, Lucille Frantz. Liz earns money dancing at a bar called The Jet, although after Ron’s attack, she’ll need to stay offstage until she heals. She wants to start a brand-new life without her husband in the picture, but she finds the prospect difficult—there are medical bills, lawyer’s fees, and the well-being of her kids to think about. Where will the money come from? How long will she be able to stay with Lucille? Meanwhile, Ron travels to Nashville to stay with his parents and try to turn his life around; as his father tells him, “If you want your family back, you have to get yourself right first. That means stop the drinking.” But his chances at success are anyone’s guess, and it seems sure that if he decides to come back to town, trouble won’t be far off. Family troubles are at the heart of this narrative that’s both recognizable and sprinkled with surprises. Readers will find themselves engaged by the fates of both the exotic dancer and her estranged, unpredictable husband. Liz lives a small-town, celibate existence for most of the book, but this eventually gives way to erotic scenes and travel to new places. The dialogue can be mundane at times, as when a mechanic goes through the play-by-play of replacing the spark plugs in Liz’s car. But despite such speedbumps, the book progresses quickly, showing that even the most impossible circumstances may have an exit.  

A mostly breezy read that sheds light on one woman’s relatable struggle.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5390-2114-8

Page Count: 318

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?