A finely crafted tale about grief and mother-daughter relationships.


A debut thriller tells the story of a woman’s reinvigorated search for her long-missing daughter.

Jesse Albright last saw her daughter, Sophie, six years ago near a circular rack in the kids’ section of the mall clothing store Zone. Every week since the 10-year-old went missing, Jesse has returned to the same spot with the irrational hope that she might find her child: “She’d always told her daughter that if they ever got separated, she should go back to the last place they had been together.” The intervening six years have been hard on Jesse, who frequently talks out loud to her missing daughter even when other people are around to hear it. She’s lost her husband and now toils at a used bookstore, where Star Silverman, who was Sophie’s best friend, has just begun working as well. Star grasps that Jesse is uncomfortable around her and that the woman is having an affair with a married realtor. The teenager also knows about another missing girl whom private investigator Kentucky “Tuck” Barnes has come to town to find. Star has her own guilt surrounding Sophie’s disappearance, and when she and Jesse begin to finally share clues, the girl’s case starts suddenly to seem a little less cold than before. Adelstein’s prose is sharp and haunted, and her traumatized characters are not shy about sharing their grim imaginings of what happened to Sophie. “Her decomposed body is lying in some ditch,” the surly Star tells another teen. “Or her bones are in a Hefty bag in some hand-dug grave after she was forced to commit vile sex acts on some pervert.” Some of the aspects of the plot, like 10-year-old Sophie’s deep interest in bird-watching, strain credulity a bit, but the characters are generally quite convincing, and the narrative is highly engaging. The devastation wrought by Sophie’s absence infects nearly every interaction. The relationship that forms between Jesse and Star—which becomes based on more than simply Sophie’s disappearance—turns out to be nearly as compelling as the mystery itself.

A finely crafted tale about grief and mother-daughter relationships.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-948051-18-7

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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

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