by L.T. Garvin ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 15, 2018
A winning narrator enlivens a charming tale of a town facing modernity.
Garvin’s (And They Came, 2017, etc.) latest novel offers a reflection of one girl’s coming-of-age in small-town Texas in the 1960s.
Billie Jo Dunstan has returned to her hometown of Viney to help her mother move. Along the way, she can’t help but to reflect on the changing times. Short, scattered vignettes about friends and family illustrate an account of her childhood, which she spent on the cusp of the counterculture. Garvin has an entertaining way with metaphor. Billie Jo describes the onslaught of memories during her journey thusly: “Splat! Hit one ghost. Then another.” Growing up in a small town as the youngest of three sisters, Billie Jo developed a talent for “making [her] own fun.” Among her exploits were tagging along to her sister’s drive-in theater outings, growing brine shrimp marketed as “Sea-Monkeys,” and idly speculating about the world around her. Her models for womanhood are diverse and reflect the times: her sisters Beth Ann and Dena Jo; a cosmopolitan cousin from Arizona, Henrietta, who goes by the nickname “Hank”; and a seemingly perfect Southern belle named Lacy Jean. Billie Jo’s fantasies of teenage life hint at possibility, just as her family history does; she recounts, in great detail, her ancestors’ gruesome experiences fleeing war and surviving the arid West Texas landscape, while tracing her family’s origins back to Scotland in the 1600s. Garvin portrays this history with unflinching honesty, never shying away from depicting the overt racial bigotry of the time and place. Interwoven with Billie Jo’s adventures is the story of Ernesto, also known as “Big Daddy,” a local rock musician who leaves Texas in search of fame. Together, their stories illustrate how social change affected the slow-paced, deeply Christian town. While Ernesto hunts for rock band Santana in Los Angeles, Billie Jo takes trips to the local soda shop, where she hears the music of the Beach Boys and the Cowsills. Garvin is at her best when offering these cheeky nods to the past, never getting bogged down in nostalgia.A winning narrator enlivens a charming tale of a town facing modernity.
Pub Date: March 15, 2018
Page Count: 224
Publisher: Crystal Publishing LLC
Review Posted Online: May 25, 2018
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Harper Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1960
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
Page Count: 323
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960
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