A humorous, good-natured blueprint for saving the planet.

Messages from Mother.... Earth Mother

A walk in the park sets off a mission to awaken humanity and save Earth, as Cromwell’s (If I Gave You God’s Phone Number, 2002) work weaves an argument for living in awareness of all life.

When her boyfriend announces a troubling decision that disrupts her world, Sarah turns to nature for comfort, only to discover that nature wants help in return. The rustically dressed woman who greets Sarah in the forest turns out to be Earth Mother, whose gentle, compassionate embrace melts Sarah’s pain and convinces her of the woman’s identity. Earth Mother has something to say to humanity (13 things, in fact) and invites Sarah to be the conduit. In the weekly conversations that follow, Earth Mother imparts observations, pleas and guidelines for living in greater harmony with her and with other people. Her messages cover familiar territory (respect the earth; plant trees) and some terrain that’s not typically associated with her—violence, conflict, competition, gratitude, etc. She’s not crazy about social media or the belittling of women, and she follows guidance for males with a pep talk for females. Earth Mother’s vision of the future is an innovative twist on Utopia, with renewable energy, biodegradable objects, telepathic communication and therapeutic criminal justice. The components might veer toward the simplistic—share food; sing; conserve “things that you’ve broken [Earth Mother’s] soil or skin to get”; leave her offerings of organically grown tobacco—but the cumulative effect isn’t trite. A self-styled “plant intuitive, sacred gardener and worm wrangler,” the author imbues her characters’ conversations with a convincing earnestness and ambition. Despite the instructional nature of the messages, Cromwell cloaks Earth Mother in lightheartedness and gives her an endearing predilection for corny jokes as well as messages of hope and love. 

A humorous, good-natured blueprint for saving the planet. 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0971703230

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Pamoon Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • 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

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet