Hyatt’s novel brings together the grittily realistic with the transcendent, and the result is a beguiling character study.


A solitary man has an emotional and sexual awakening when an unlikely couple arrives in his small Louisiana town.

Boz Matthews, the narrator, is a man in his mid-30s who remains troubled by childhood memories of his violent father and suicidal mother. As the story begins, he's working for his beloved grandfather at the local diner. Things change with the arrival of Catty Mills, a country singer best known for one late-1980s hit, and her companion, Kyle. Boz finds himself attracted to both of them in different ways, and a fourth point on this love quadrangle appears in the form of Meg, an old friend of Boz’s with a long history of depression. The novel opens with a haunting portrait of solitude and depression: the bond between Boz and his grandfather is neatly established with a few key gestures and is gradually expanded throughout the book. Hyatt is deft with parceling out information, whether it’s Boz’s attraction to La Dolce Vita–era Marcello Mastroianni or the fact that, at one point, he had enjoyed writing. And for all that the novel tells a deceptively simple story—that of Boz finding his place in the world—it never stints on the emotional complexity of the characters at its center. Each of them is, in his or her own way, damaged, and while the bond that develops among the quartet has the ability to heal, it also possesses the ability to hurt in equal measure. There are hard-earned moments of emotional triumph to be found here, but there are also gut-wrenchingly sad ones.

Hyatt’s novel brings together the grittily realistic with the transcendent, and the result is a beguiling character study.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9975923-0-6

Page Count: 224


Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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