Sykes and Piazza must be connected with most of Hollywood on social media; it won’t be long before this story moves off the...

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THE KNOCKOFF

The glamorous world of fashion is met with a tech invasion in this satirical novel by fashion editor Sykes and editor/journalist Piazza (Love Rehab, 2014, etc.)

The fashion industry is notoriously cutthroat; The Devil Wears Prada taught us all about the nasty power struggles. In this story, though, the “devil” comes not in a dictatorial fashion editor but instead in the form of technology and the millennials who wield it with the goal of taking over the world, one click or “like” or Tweet at a time. Here, our likable protagonist is Imogen Tate, a 40-something fashion goddess and editor in chief who is just returning to her post after a six-month medical leave. Much to her surprise, she returns to Glossy magazine to discover her staff has been entirely replaced by young women strapped to devices that never stop beeping, no matter the hour. Imogen’s respected magazine has been turned into an app, and digital-only Glossy.com is now run by the hyperactive Eve Morton—Imogen’s old assistant, who left to get her MBA two years ago. Eve has returned a sociopath, a “techbitch” who labels Imogen the office dinosaur and laughs in her face when she doesn’t understand what a “gif” or a “dongle” is. As Eve becomes increasingly power hungry, Imogen realizes she must figure out how to adapt and take back what’s hers. This story is over-the-top, no doubt: it’s hard to believe the speed with which Glossy is revolutionized or just how tech-illiterate Imogen is, and Eve is simply a monstrosity. These exaggerated moments would translate well on the big screen, as would the portrayal of the generation gap and the endless, comedic tech struggles.

Sykes and Piazza must be connected with most of Hollywood on social media; it won’t be long before this story moves off the page.

Pub Date: May 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53958-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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

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THE VANISHING HALF

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

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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