A well-observed camp tale with an appealing young girl’s voice that falls short in its depiction of Native Americans.


A preteen finds fun, friendship, and adventure at a summer camp in this children’s novel.

Madison Grey is a tad anxious about going to Crazy Moon sleep-away camp. This will be her first time away from home without her parents and three younger siblings. In this light, engaging first-person narrative for ages 7 and up, Greene (A Tunnel in the Pines, 2015) gives Madison an authentic, likable voice as she reacts alternately with nervousness, humor, curiosity, and thoughtfulness to her camp experiences. She falls in love with a horse named Mouse, plays water games, dabbles in crafts, toasts marshmallows, steals the spotlight in a talent show (due to a funny costume mishap), attends her first boy-girl dance, and makes new friends. Madison is described as white and “skinny.” One character is “a little heavy”; another is “small.” Some have brown skin, suggesting diversity (on one girl, “everything” is “brown, her skin, her long, dark hair, and long-lashed eyes”). This is reflected in one of the pleasant, full-page digital images by debut illustrator Sands. The author gives the girls distinctive personalities without stereotyping. Snobby Julie shows she has a conscience. A certain event makes Madison see clingy, overweight Nancy through new eyes. By the end of her stay, Madison feels a budding sense of independence. Mild scares include a tornado warning, a swarm of bees, and a food fight with briefly worrisome consequences. Greene brings summer camp to life from the affectionate perspective of someone who has been there, adding color and depth with small details. A hawk makes “slow, graceful circles” searching for prey; wood “hissed and popped” on the campfire, shooting “orange sparks high into the darkening sky.” Yet the book’s relatability for a diverse pool of readers is compromised by references painting Native Americans as a past, exotic “other.” When Madison grumbles about brushing her teeth during a camping trip, earnest Helen says that “American Indians” used pine to clean their teeth. They laugh when Julie jokes, “That’s because they all had buffalo breath.” While the author points out the girls’ ignorance through a campfire talk about the area’s history and “the Indians” who were “amazingly resourceful,” the portrait is still problematic.

A well-observed camp tale with an appealing young girl’s voice that falls short in its depiction of Native Americans.

Pub Date: June 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943424-35-1

Page Count: 118

Publisher: North Country Press

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2019

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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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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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