You’ll breeze through this one like you would a Saturday spin class with the most fabulous playlist and the promise of...

FITNESS JUNKIE

Unofficial rule of the New York fashion industry: if you must buy the bruffin, you absolutely cannot be seen eating said bruffin.

Janey Sweet, co-founder of a wedding-dress company called B, doesn’t realize she’s committing a crime until B designer and her best friend, Beau, shoves a tabloid with a picture of her eating a bruffin ("the love child of a brioche and a muffin") in her face and ends their breakfast conversation by calling her the “f” word—fat—which is unacceptable according to their business arrangement formed decades ago. Since B wedding dresses are notorious for not going above a size 4, Janey is out until she drops her bruffin habit and 30 pounds along with it. No joke. It doesn’t matter that she’s lost both of her parents within a year or that she’s going through a divorce. To Beau, being skinny is the only thing that matters. With the same delicious brand of satire that Sykes and Piazza became known for in The Knockoff (2015), Janey falls down the rabbit hole of fitness trends, skinny mommy blogs, and juice cleanses in search of a weight-loss savior. If you think naked yoga isn’t real, Google it. If you don’t think you can laugh at scenarios involving psychedelic cactus and an exclusive healing ceremony in Brooklyn, then you won’t appreciate this book’s particular flavor of excess. The journey to skinny is livened up by a memorable supporting cast: there’s CJ, Janey’s college friend who is levelheaded about everything besides her weight (in that respect, she’s a maniac); Jacob, a superattractive, dumpster-diving single dad; and Ivy, Janey’s younger cousin, a former ballerina–turned–SoarBarre instructor with the mouth of a sailor. The journey culminates with Janey becoming a follower of “The Workout,” the latest craze promising to have you 15 pounds lighter, as long as you’re able to pay the exorbitant price associated with a retreat to St. Lucia. Though it’s hard to sympathize with someone who can afford to have healthy meals catered on a daily basis, this novel is about indulging in the ridiculous. You’ll have to overlook details like sporadic point-of-view changes and the fact that St. Lucia is not actually a Spanish-speaking country on the path to finding your inner “warrior queen.”

You’ll breeze through this one like you would a Saturday spin class with the most fabulous playlist and the promise of brunch cocktails after.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-54180-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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