LOST AND FOUND

Harris's penchant for lassoing the casual reader with a far- fetched yarn—even one with vacant characters and cuckoo coincidences—has boosted the popularity of her period Eden series and the chill-factor of ghost/terror items like The Diviner (1982) or Night Games (1987). This is a sunnier item, with a runaway plot, about a two-decade search for a child lost on a westbound train from Depression-era Tulsa. In 1930, the 18-year-old Martha, who's run away from a mean dad in Texas, pleads with the harassed head of a Tulsa Salvation Army shelter, where she slaves, to allow her to keep the newborn she names Belle (for the baby's bell-shaped birthmark) as well as R.C., the waif she's found tied to a lamppost. Then one day when Belle is but a tot, R.C., thinking he'll save them from an orphanage, puts Belle on a train but misses it himself. In grief and fear, Martha and R.C. begin the search. Switch then to Belle and her fortunes—and families both cold and marvelous. Belle finds her ``real'' family with a Japanese couple, from whom she's later forced to part when they are interned during the war. At the same time, Martha and R.C. are having rocky times, but eventually Martha will have a home and a houseful of rescued waifs—as well as a husband—in Texas. It's while R.C. is teaching at UCLA that the impossible dream comes true. Meanwhile, Belle, now a widow and a student of economics and finance ready to take over her late husband's celluloid empire, and involved in civil-rights work, is ripe for discovery. Your basic seek, find, and sunburst resolution tale with an eerie period ambiance and Hallmark characters.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-517-58333-X

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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