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Elegantly balanced, dense and ripe, Guillory's novel illuminates things alien to most, and although ugly and hard at times,...

A masterful debut novel about a young man reckoning with his family on the tough streets of Houston in the 1980s.

Guillory balances the details of the 1980s with post–Civil War history to bring continuity to the Creole-speaking, culturally steeped Boudreaux family, living in the “hood” that is South Park, Houston. Ti’ John, short for Petit John, fully John Paul Boudreaux Jr., narrates life in a well-intentioned family where mother is a devout Catholic and father is a riotous character hard to forget. Time bounces sensuously from 1870s to 1940s Louisiana to 1980 Texas, and the language and dialect change with place. In Louisiana, Haitian French flows beautifully, “ancient and powerful,” not dark or ominous like the tough talk of the ghetto kids on a steamy street where murders are woven into the fabric of the neighborhood. Ti’ John is schooled in the ways of the Creole healers by his father, John Frenchy, who has a way with horses, dice and women. But knowledge of the past crosses into the mystical as the Burning Wood Man, an uncle hanged in 1953, appears as a dark guardian for Ti’ John’s education. There is a great rhythm in this novel—in language as well as action. When the healers speak, it is from a place deep in the earth. When the street kids speak, it is in the immediacy of growing up and exotic hopes: red Now and Later candy, cars, girls, drugs, and, in Ti’ John’s case, a future that his mother has worked and prayed for. There is poetry in the ways of the Creole Boudreaux family history, in the voodoo and zydeco, and in a young man going off to college.

Elegantly balanced, dense and ripe, Guillory's novel illuminates things alien to most, and although ugly and hard at times, it brings hope, no matter the dark secrets of family.

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9911-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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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

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